, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 5 – A woman was killed and dozens others injured when a building in the Huruma area of Nairobi collapsed at around 7.30pm on Sunday night.
As at 2am on Monday morning, a total of 36 people had been pulled out of the collapsed building with 24 dispatched to the Kenyatta National Hospital where the woman died and the remaining 12 cleared at the scene.
Rescue operations continued well into Monday morning as others remained trapped in the building and communicated with their loved ones via mobile phone or shouted for help.
The rescue efforts are being co-ordinated by the Kenya Defence Forces who employed sniffer dogs to identify the exact locations where people were trapped.
The National Disaster Management Unit Deputy Director Pius Mwachi however said that a lack of heavy duty machinery, “like the cranes used by Chinese to construct roads,” was slowing down the rescue efforts.
The Huruma building collapse comes barely two weeks after the Makongeni building collapse which claimed seven lives.
The Nairobi County Government however denied being at fault for failing to ensure the safety of the residential buildings.
“The first responsibility falls to the developer,” the county executive in charge of planning and housing, Tom Odong’o, told Capital FM News.
The seven-storey Huruma building, he said, came down because the bottom three floors were unable to sustain the weight of the top four floors.
“The top four floors were built in quick succession with the seventh still under construction and the bottom six occupied,” he said.
Area residents however accused the county government of turning a blind eye to the shoddy construction practices employed by the collapsed building developer.
“It’s not the first time this building has collapsed. A part of it came down before, a few people moved out but nothing was done. I don’t even think the ground was suitable for construction. The bottom two floors have sunk into the muck,” one such resident told Capital FM News on condition of anonymity.
In response, Starehe Assistant County Commissioner I David Saruni told Capital FM that while he had heard the same reports, he could not confirm or deny them until further investigations had been carried out.
Mwachi however sought to assure residents that justice would be done.
“We caught up with the owner of the Makongeni building which collapsed just the other day and we’ll catch up with this one,” he said.
In the immediate aftermath of the building collapse there was a skirmish between the police and area residents which resulted in the use of tear gas.
Mwachi accused members of the public of compromising rescue efforts while area residents in turn accused security agents of dragging their feet and making no progress in the rescue effort.
“Before they got here we pulled out 15 safely. How many have they rescued so far?” an area resident challenged.
In addition to equipment, Saruni also made an appeal for food, water and blankets for those rescued and those involved in the rescue efforts.