Floods kill at least 42 in central Kenya after dam bursts

Floods kill at least 42 in central Kenya after dam bursts
People are reflected on stagnant water as they gather around where a body of a man was discovered as the flooded Gitathuru River receded three days after heavy rainfall broke its banks damaging the surrounding neighborhoods, in Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya, 27 April 2024. According to the Kenya Red Cross Society, the flooding left at least 75 dead as more bodies continue to be discovered, and more than 100,000 people have been affected by the March-May rains that continue to rise, including over 40,000 people displaced. Kenya's meteorological department predicts more heavy rainfall as floods continue to destroy properties in various parts of the country. EPA-EFE/Daniel Irungu

MAI MAHIU, Kenya, April 29 (Reuters) - At least 42 people have been killed in floods in central Kenya's Mai Mahiu area after a dam burst early on Monday, and the number of deaths could rise, police said.

Pictures posted on the X accounts of Kenyan media, Kenya Red Cross and the highway authorities showed scenes of the aftermath of the flooding, with broken trees and at least one car stuck among logs and mud.

“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,” Naivasha police commander Stephen Kirui told reporters from the rescue scene.

Earlier on Monday, the Kenya Red Cross said it had taken several people to a health facility in Mai Mahiu due to flash flooding.

The latest deaths bring the toll from heavy rains and flooding since last month to more than 140.

Excluding the Mai Mahiu incident, government figures show 103 people had been killed and more than 185,000 displaced as of Monday.

The Kenya Red Cross said on X that its personnel had retrieved two bodies after a boat capsized late on Sunday in the Tana River, in eastern Kenya’s Garissa County. Twenty-three people were rescued from the same incident.

Dozens more have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced by intense downpours in other East African countries, including Tanzania and Burundi.

The floods have caused widespread damage to infrastructure such as roads and bridges.

A road underpass at the international airport in the capital Nairobi was flooded, but flights were running as usual, the Kenya Airports Authority said on Sunday.

Hydroelectric dams were filled to capacity, which could lead to a massive overflow downstream, a government spokesperson said.

East Africa was also hit by record floods during the last rainy season in late 2023. Scientists say climate change is causing more intense and frequent extreme weather events.

Kenya’s education ministry on Monday postponed the start of a new school term by one week.

“The devastating effects of the rains in some of the schools is so severe that it will be imprudent to risk the lives of learners and staff,” it said in a statement.

(Reporting by Nairobi newsroom;Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Aaron Ross, Ed Osmond, Alex Richardson and Alexander Winning)


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