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Disaster in Kenya as Old Kijabe Dam bursts killing over 42

Early Monday, The Old Kijabe Dam in western Kenya collapsed, resulting in the tragic loss of at least 42 lives. The forceful surge of water swept through houses and caused a major road to be cut off, leading to this devastating incident.

The Old Kijabe Dam, situated in the Mai Mahiu area of the Great Rift Valley region, is particularly susceptible to flash floods. As a result of the collapse, water cascaded downstream, carrying with it a mixture of mud, rocks, and uprooted trees. The aftermath of this catastrophe left vehicles entangled in debris along one of Kenya’s busiest highways, while paramedics worked tirelessly to treat the injured amidst submerged areas.

Of the 42 bodies recovered so far, 17 were of children. “We have so far recovered 42 bodies, which include 17 minors, following the early morning incident where a dam burst its banks in Kijabe area and rescue and search operations are going on,” police at the site in Mai Mahiu said.

“The water came at high speed from Old Kijabe Dam and washed away many houses and vehicles. We have never seen such devastating floods since we were born here in Mai Mahiu,” David Kamau tod the BBC. Another resident, Peter Muhoho, said that most of his neighbours were swept away in Kianugu, a village with about 18 homes. “I was asleep when I heard a loud bang and screams. Water had flooded the area. We started rescuing people,” Mr Muhoho told the BBC.

Old kijabe dam burst in kenya

The ongoing heavy rains in Kenya have already claimed the lives of nearly 100 individuals and caused the postponement of school openings. Since mid-March, the country has been experiencing relentless downpours, prompting the Meteorology Department to issue warnings of further rainfall. In response to this tragedy, Kenya’s Interior Minister, Kithure Kindiki, has ordered the immediate inspection of all public and private dams and water reservoirs within 24 hours, commencing Monday afternoon, to prevent future incidents.

The ministry has also stated that recommendations for evacuations and resettlement will be made following the completion of the inspection. The Kenya National Highways Authority has issued an alert, cautioning motorists to expect heavy traffic and road blockages in the Naivasha and Narok areas, located west of the capital city, Nairobi.

In the wider East African region, heavy rains have caused flooding, resulting in tragic consequences. In Tanzania, 155 people have lost their lives, while over 200,000 individuals in neighboring Burundi have been affected. Additionally, a boat incident occurred in Kenya’s northern Garissa county, where the Kenyan Red Cross successfully rescued 23 individuals, but unfortunately, several people remain missing.

The floods have also impacted Kenya’s main airport, leading to the diversion of some flights. Distressing videos circulating online depict a flooded runway, terminals, and cargo section. The floods have affected more than 200,000 people in various parts of Kenya, causing homes in flood-prone areas to be submerged and forcing people to seek shelter in schools. In response to this crisis, President William Ruto has directed the National Youth Service to allocate land for a temporary camp to accommodate those affected.

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