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At least three killed after residential building collapses in Kenya

  • 6 Dec 2019

"Three people have died, and 27 others have been rushed to hospital. One was seriously injured," Reuben Ndolo, the Nairobi regional police commander says.

An injured women rescued from the rubble is carried by rescuers at the scene where a building collapsed in Nairobi, Kenya, December 6, 2019. ( Reuters )

At least three people were killed and 27 injured on Friday when a residential building collapsed in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, police said, as rescue workers struggled to free a woman who was screaming from under the rubble.

Scores of people were clustered around, held back by a cordon, waiting to find news of their family and friends as police and a mechanical digger worked through the wreckage.

The Kenya Red Cross said 11 people had been rescued by late afternoon, about five hours after the six-storey building collapsed. It was not immediately clear how many people had been inside.

"Three people have died, and 27 others have been rushed to hospital. One was seriously injured," Reuben Ndolo, the Nairobi regional police commander, told Reuters.

Associated Press video showed people cheering as one dust-covered person was carried away on a stretcher, one arm outstretched. 

Shortly afterwards, the crowd hushed as another person was carried away but covered completely by a blanket. Later, another two people were carried away, one with their head uncovered and the other completely shrouded.

Earlier, Nairobi county police chief Philip Ndolo said at least 10 people had been rescued by residents of Tassia estate using their bare hands. Eight people were taken to a hospital, Nairobi regional commissioner Wilson Njenga said.

“Tragedy has struck us again," public works official Gordon Kihalangwa said. “Some people have been trapped inside and we are doing our best to free them."

TRT World speaks to journalist Abdi Osman Adan in Nairobi for more.

Cause unclear

Military personnel arrived to assist with the search and rescue operation.

It was not immediately clear what caused the morning collapse.

Njenga said 57 rooms had been rented out in the building. The Red Cross said 22 families lived there. Njenga said the building's owner was “not available" and not living there.

Hundreds of people gathered to watch from nearby buildings as emergency responders prodded at the pancaked concrete structure. 

Medical workers set up an impromptu centre in tin-roofed stalls nearby while a line of ambulances waited. One covered body was seen there on the ground.

Building collapses are common in Nairobi, where housing is in high demand and unscrupulous developers often bypass regulations.

After eight buildings collapsed and killed 15 people in Kenya in 2015, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered an audit of all the country’s buildings to see if they were up to code.

The National Construction Authority found that 58 percent of buildings in Nairobi were unfit for habitation.

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