Death toll in Kenya building collapse reaches 16

Agence France-Presse
Two neighboring buildings are also declared unsafe and evacuated

TRAGEDY. Local residents look at a collapsed building across the river as a rescue operation continues in Nairobi, Kenya, May 1, 2016. Photo by Dai Kurokawa/EPA

NAIROBI, Kenya – At least 16 people were killed when a 6-storey residential building due for demolition collapsed in Nairobi in torrential weekend storms, local authorities said Sunday, May 1.

“The people dead from this incident is now 16,” said National Disaster Management Unit head Pius Masai.

Authorities had initially put the death toll from Friday’s building collapse in the northern district of Huruma at 12 on Saturday night.

President Uhuru Kenyatta had Saturday visited the ruins of the building, where residents perished after concrete floors collapsed on top of each other.

Building authorities had condemned the bloc, home to more than 150 families, but the order to evacuate and carry out the demolition had been ignored.

The overall death toll from the severe rains meanwhile rose to 23 for Nairobi as a whole.

The collapse of the residential bloc in a torrential downpour prompted questions over the quality of a construction completed only two years ago near a river.

Two neighboring buildings were declared unsafe and were evacuated.

The downpours were the heaviest since the start of the rainy season and caused flooding and landslides in many areas of the capital.

Elsewhere in the city, two people were swept away in their vehicle in an industrial district, 4 people died when a wall collapsed, and another victim drowned, police said.

Saturday, the Red Cross had indicated around 50 people were missing after the drama in Huruma. Some residents were away, taking advantage of the May Day break to visit family and friends outside the city with Monday a public holiday.

Troops were leading operations to rescue dozens of other residents.

Several buildings have collapsed in Kenya in recent years amid a wave of construction – but building quality has been questioned amid claims that unscrupulous developers have been getting around regulations by paying bribes to local authorities. – 

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