20 more are dead in Kenya’s week of tears - Daily Nation

20 more are dead in Kenya’s week of tears

Wednesday September 14 2011

By NATION TEAM [email protected]

Twenty more people died Wednesday in one of Kenya’s darkest weeks.

Eight victims of the Sinai fire disaster succumbed to their injuries at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) where 112 people were admitted on Monday with serious burns after a petrol leak from the Kenya Pipeline Corporation caught fire. (Read: It was a scene straight from hell)

In Nyahururu, eight more people died, bringing the toll to 19, after drinking an illegal brew.

In Ruiru, seven people died and four went blind after drinking a similar brew. These were the casualties given by relatives.

Area District Commissioner Erastus Mbui, however, said four had died and three were at Ruiru hospital and one at Thika hospital.

On Wednesday, one more body was pulled from the Ngong River, bringing the number of bodies recovered to 95, and the confirmed deaths to 108 (including the 13 who died in hospital).

The Kenya Red Cross said 118 people were reported missing, among them 25 children and 93 adults.

Twenty two people were discharged from KNH Wednesday, while 68 are still admitted.

Meanwhile, the government has asked relatives of those who perished in the fire to provide DNA samples at the City Mortuary to help identify their loved ones.

Special Programmes PS Andrew Mondoh said samples will be collected from 8am.

He also asked relatives and friends of those still missing to report to the disaster operation centre at the Tom Mboya Social Hall on Jogoo Road.

Mr Mondoh added that counselling services will continue to be provided at the hall.

At KNH, a plastic surgeon said some patients will undergo surgery Thursday.

The hospital’s chief executive, Mr Richard Lesiyampe, said most of the patients had sustained between 80 and 100 per cent superficial burns, adding that it would cost more than Sh70 million a month to treat them.

And as efforts were being made to trace missing persons and identify those who died, the Energy Parliamentary Committee launched separate investigations.

A team from the ministries of Energy and Works, Kenya Police and Kenya Power and Lighting Company is also investigating the tragedy.

A preliminary report is yet to be released.

Energy Committee chairman James Rege said the committee’s tour Wednesday was only preliminary and the full details of what transpired will be disclosed to Parliament.

The fire destroyed a section of Sinai slum, some 1.3km from a spillage of petrol at the junction of the Nairobi-Mombasa and Nairobi-Eldoret pipelines.

Fuel storage tanks

Mr Rege, accompanied by four members of his committee, met with officials of KPC and later toured the fuel storage tanks.

“This is only a fact-finding tour. Though this particular disaster was an accident, we would like the government to act with speed and clear the way-leave around the Kenya pipeline depots in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa,” he said.

He said the committee would draft laws to keep encroachers away from the pipeline and other infrastructure that pose a risk to public safety.

“Anyone that tries to tamper with the pipeline will be viewed to be engaging in economic sabotage,” he said.

He was accompanied by MPs Ekwe Ethuro, Maina Kamau, Edwin Yinda and Cyprian Omollo.

The MPs asked local leaders to work out a relocation plan of people living near oil pipelines.

“The disaster is devastating and we should never allow this to happen again in this country,” Mr Rege said.

On Tuesday, President Kibaki declared two days of national mourning as the government sought help from India to treat the victims.

Elsewhere, people living in houses built on flight paths have been given seven days to leave.

“Upon lapse of this notice, any buildings, installations or erections will be demolished and any human activities within this area will be terminated without further reference to them and third cost and risk to any loss or damage incurred,” warned a notice by the Kenya Airports Authority.

The notice published in a separate page of this newspaper, added that the decision was taken to ensure public safety.