Tragedy as Landslide claims the lives of nine Kenyans

Story source here

Just a few days after huge fire gutted Kimathi house top floor.   On Wednesday 4th April nine people were killed following a landslide in Mathare Valley.

The accident happened at around 5.30am at the Mathare 4A behind Kenya Power’s Ruaraka complex when a huge rock rolled down the valley, flattening at least 14 houses.

Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said that by Wednesday evening nine people had been confirmed dead, nine seriously injured and 20 had slight injuries.

Among those killed were a woman and her son, two brothers and a child.

The bodies remained trapped beneath the rubble for hours as rescuers from the police, NYS, Kenya Red Cross and the military worked to retrieve them.

The rescue operation was hampered by lack of appropriate equipment, heavy rains and poor access to the area. The officers also had a difficult time controlling the crowd that milled around the scene.

Earthmovers from the city council and the NYS started arriving at the scene two hours later and the rescuers were forced to demolish some structures to clear the way for the equipment.

Though the accident happened at 5.30am, the first rescue team from the NYS arrived at 8am.

The first body was retrieved at around 9am, four hours after the incident.

According to a survivor Festus Ochieng Ogwada, he heard a loud bang before his house was engulfed in dust. When he tried getting up from bed, he realised that part of the wall collapsed on his wife and eight-year-old son. Luckily, they escaped with minor injuries.

Another survivor, Mr Robert Odongo, said his house completely destroyed.

He first heard stones rolling on the roof before he heard his three children screaming. He was with his wife and three children aged 12, seven and one and a half years.

Mr Patrick Omondi woke up after heavy stones tore through the roof of his house landing on his bed. Although he escaped the falling rocks narrowly, his wife Jackline was hit on the stomach severely injuring her.

“The entire house collapsed on us with my wife screaming for help as the heavy stones lay on her,” Mr Omondi, a mechanic, said.

The arrival of senior government officials and politicians at the scene also slowed down rescue operations as the exercise had to be stopped for them to be briefed on the progress, said residents.

The first official to arrive was area MP Elizabeth Ongoro, followed shortly by Mr Iteere. Prime Minister Raila Odinga arrived at around 11.45, disrupting rescue operations for about 20 minutes.

Nairobi provincial commissioner Njoroge Ndirangu later visited the scene and ordered that all the structures at the valley be demolished.

The German-funded Mathare 4A Development Programme was started to improve living standards for the urban poor by providing infrastructure such as footpaths, drainage, water, street-lighting and garbage collection points. Some residents, however, constructed structures close to the cliff.

According to National Disaster Operation Centre director, Col Vincent Anami, the last body was retrieved at 5.30pm after which the team embarked on clearing the area.

Another resident admitted that the rock, which hang precariously, posed danger to the residents but that was the only place they could afford to live in.

He added that in 2002 there was a similar landslide in which two people were injured.

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