Nakumatt rescue mission continues

January 31, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 31 – Rescue workers at the Nakumatt Downtown store went back to work on Saturday morning after retrieving 25 bodies from the skeleton building on Friday.

Several Kenya Red Cross Society workers donned protective gear and searched through the debris of the supermarket, which was brought down by a massive fire that burned through Wednesday and Thursday.

The Red Cross missing persons tent was empty as most people, who had reported their relatives and loved ones missing, had converged at the City Mortuary to try and identify the charred remains that were taken there late Friday.

Meanwhile, Special Programmes Permanent Secretary Ali Mohammed has said government officials would meet with the bereaved families on Monday to begin the funeral and burial arrangements.

“Our priority for now is to ensure that any remains of humans are identified and thereafter we will be sitting with bereaved families, where we will be discussing the specifics. Once we reach an agreement we will let you, the public, know what form of assistance the government will be giving,” said the PS.

Mr Mohammed, who made the remarks at a press conference late Friday, was in the company of the Nairobi Provincial Commissioner James Waweru. He said the recovery process is likely to go on for about one week.

“Recovery teams have managed to clear part of the ground floor. After the review it will take probably another three to seven days before the entire disaster area has been cleared.”

The PS explained that the rescue operations were progressing slowly because of a risk that the structure might collapse.

Police and firemen picked their way carefully through the gutted, smouldering debris, placing small red flags on what they thought were human remains.

Up to 47 people have been reported missing and the cause of the blaze has not yet been established.

President Mwai Kibaki visited the scene on Friday and promised government assistance.

"We will do what we can to assist all those who are hurt by this tragedy. We should come out and help each other," he encouraged.


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