Death toll rises in Kenya tragedy

October 21, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 21 – The number of bodies retrieved in the Kiambu collapsed building tragedy has risen to 11.

Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) Public Relations Manager Titus Mung’ou said on Wednesday that three more bodies were removed at midnight in the operation that went on till morning.

He added that more people are still trapped under the building and the rescue efforts are expected to go on throughout the day.

“The rescue teams continues digging into the rubble in search of people who were communicating to others outside,” said Mr Mung’ou.

“Additional three bodies were found bringing the total number of those who have perished to 11,” he said.

“By late evening we had eight and by midnight they had retrieved three more bodies.”

Mr Mung’ou also said that counseling centres had been set up near the collapsed building to assist the survivors and the relatives of those still trapped.

“We have tents there. One of them is for tracing of missing persons. Until yesterday (Tuesday) night 30 names had been presented by families as missing people,” he explained.

"For psycho-social support we have the Kenya Red Cross Society and the Maranatha.”

Combined rescue efforts by the Kenya Red Cross, Chinese rescue experts, the military,  General Service Unit personnel and the Municipal Council of Kiambu was boosted early Tuesday afternoon after the arrival of equipment to sift through piles of rubble.

Rescue operations were halted late Monday after a heavy downpour, while rescuers were waiting for equipment which has since arrived to cut through the grill and heavy slabs to reach the trapped persons.

However, the National Disaster Management Committee gave a different number claiming that only two people could not be accounted for.

They said the estimated number of people in the building at the time of collapse was 20 and already 18 had been found.

Reports had indicated that there were 50 people in the building when it caved in.

The Kenya Red Cross Society said that their records had been accrued from reports compiled by the organisation on those reported missing.

Those trapped were still using mobile phones to contact relatives according to Mr Mung’ou who said they still hoped to find more survivors despite the challenge of inadequate equipment and bad weather.

“It is sad that at this point Kenya is still not prepared to deal with disasters such as collapse of buildings,” Mr Mung’ou said.

Central Province Police boss John Mbijiwe said preliminary investigations indicated that the building caved in due to structural issues.

“Investigations are on course and we are planning to arrest the contractor and the owner for further questioning,” he said.


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