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Kenya's burst Patel dam was 'built illegally'

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Kenya's burst Patel dam was 'built illegally'

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu May 10, 2018 12:14 pm

Kenya's Patel dam burst 'causes huge destruction'

A dam burst in Kenya on Wednesday night after heavy rain, causing "huge destruction" and killing at least 32 people, police say.

The breach happened on farmland near the town of Solai, 190km (120 miles) north-west of the capital, Nairobi.

The dead are thought to include children and women trapped in mud.

The Kenyan Red Cross says it has rescued some 40 people so far. More than 2,000 people are said to have been left homeless.

Local officials say the full extent of the damage is not yet clear. There are fears the death toll could rise as the search-and-rescue operation continues.

Nakuru County police chief Gideon Kibunjah said that 32 bodies had been recovered so far.

This included 11 bodies, mostly of women and children, covered with mud at a coffee plantation, an unnamed police officer told AFP news agency.

It seemed that they had been fleeing, but "could not make it due to the force and speed of the water from the flooded dam", the officer added.

'Blind neighbour dies'

The Patel dam, located on the upper end of private farmland, broke its walls and swept away a primary school and hundreds of homes downstream.

Witnesses said they heard a loud bang before the waves swept through nearly 2km (1.2 miles) of farmland where many live and work.

"The water has caused huge destruction of both life and property. The extent of the damage has yet to be ascertained," said Lee Kinyajui, governor of Nakuru County.

Survivor Veronica Wanjiku Ngigi, 67, told Reuters news agency that she was at home brewing tea when her son's wife rushed in to say they needed to get to higher ground as the dam had burst.

"It was a sea of water. My neighbour was killed when the water smashed through the wall of his house. He was blind so he could not run. They found his body in the morning," she was quoted as saying.

"My other neighbours also died. All our houses have been ruined," Ms Ngigi added.
Could other dams burst?

The Patel dam is one of three reservoirs owned by a large-scale farmer in the area.

Its walls are said to have caved in due to the high volumes of water following heavy rains that have been pounding the country.

Local leaders are now seeking to find out whether the farmer was licensed to erect those dams, amid concerns about the condition of the remaining two which are also said to be full, reports the BBC's Ferdinand Omondi in the capital, Nairobi.

He has not yet commented.

The toll now brings to 162 the number of people who have died countrywide as a result of heavy rains since March, according to official statistics.

More than 220,000 people have also had their homes destroyed.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-44065340
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Kenya's burst Patel dam was 'built illegally'

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Re: Kenya's burst Patel dam was 'built illegally'

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri May 11, 2018 11:43 pm

Kenya's burst Patel dam was 'built illegally'

A Kenyan dam that burst - killing more than 40 people - was illegal, the country's water authority says.

The Patel dam was one of a number on a sprawling farm near Solai, 190km (120 miles) from the capital, Nairobi.

But none of them had a permit, a Water Resources Management Authority (Warma) spokesman said. The farm's manager has denied any wrongdoing.

Dozens of people are still missing from Wednesday's tragedy. There are fears that the death toll may rise.

It stood at 45 on Friday. Almost half the victims found so far were children. An investigation has been launched.

Warma spokeswoman Elizabeth Luvonga said the farm's dams lack the necessary permissions.

"None of them have permits. That is why they are illegal," she told Reuters news agency.

But the general manager of the farm, Vinoj Kumar, denied the accusation.

"All these dams were built about 15 to 20 years before. There's no [nothing] illegal," he said.

The bursting of the dam sent a reported 70 million litres of water towards the homes below.

According to Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper, the wall of water was about 1.5m high and 500m wide.

It destroyed everything in its path - including a primary school and power lines.

'Now we are digging for bodies'
By Anne Soy, BBC News, Kenya

"Yesterday we were recovering bodies that were on the surface," a volunteer said on Friday. "But now they [officers] have begun digging into the mud searching for more victims."

Wading through the mud with shovels and sticks, they are feeling for any bodies.

Families are helping to identify the dead.[/size]

'I clung to a tree'

"The flooding happened so quickly," Josephat Kimeli told the BBC. "While I was trying to run away, two of my daughters were swept away by the floodwaters.

"I was able to save my wife and two sons. But now I am in pain: I am pained by the loss of my children."

Ngugi Njoroge, one of the injured, told reporters he had been separated from his family.

"I was with my parents and my younger brother," he said from his hospital bed. "I don't know where they are. I was carried away by the water but I was lucky as I clung to a tree until the water subsided."

Nakuru County Governor Lee Kinyanjui said 40 people were missing.

The dam, which is located on private farmland where flowers, macadamia nuts and coffee are grown, burst after heavy rains in the area, which continued into Thursday, making rescue efforts more difficult.

There are fears over other dams in the area. Mr Kinyanjui warned that at least one other "will have to be discharged to avoid disaster".

Prior to the Patel dam disaster, official statistics said heavy rains had already caused 132 deaths across the country since March.

More than 220,000 people have also had their homes destroyed.

The downpours came after a severe drought in the region, which left millions in need of food aid and the soil unable to absorb heavy rain.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-44082423
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Anthea
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