Death Toll in Kenya Explosion, Fire Remain Unclear

September 12, 2011 / Russell Legato, Residential Property Analyst

Nairobi police said on Monday that at least 61 bodies have been recovered after petrol that had spilled into an open sewer caught fire and sent a wave of flame through a densely populated slum in the capital of Kenya, Reuters reported as quoted by other media outlets.

Death Toll in Kenya Explosion, Fire Remain Unclear

However, BBC News puts the number a bit higher, saying at least 75 people have died according to authorities. Still, the ABC News reported more than 100 people being feared burned to death, quoting police authorities as saying at least 80 people have been confirmed dead, while officials expect the toll to rise.

The ABC News quoted witnesses who saw the explosion happening after some of the dwellers rushed to siphon off the spilling fuel from a burst pipeline, which runs through the Kenya City’s Lunga Lunga industrial area.

Reuters quoted residents as saying a petrol spilled from a fuel depot owned by the Kenya Pipeline Company and ran into a sewage dyke that runs under the slum, which is known as Sinai.

In a statement, the Kenya Pipeline Company said fuel leaked into a storm drain from the Nairobi-Mombasa pipeline.

Dubbed as one of the worst fire disasters in Kenya at least, the explosion forced firefighters to brave fierce flames consuming the shanties that surround the place.

“We have confirmed 61 dead so far, but we are retrieving more,” deputy police spokesman Charles Owino told Reuters.

But other police authorities said it is still hard to establish an accurate figure as some charred remains were found in cluster, the report added.

Officials confirmed that more than 110 have been taken to hospital.

The explosion may have been sparked by a cigarette butt being thrown into an open sewer that was filling with fuel, BBC reported, though investigations are ongoing.

“The government will do everything possible to ensure the injured will be treated and the families who have lost their loved ones will be compensated,” said Kenya Prime Minister Raila Odinga who visited the area.

The fire also razed down a school building.

“There is an informal school inside the slum, they have all been burned,” Daniel Mutinda, a spokesman the KenyaRed Cross, said as quoted by the Los Angeles Times.

On the other hand, the PBS Newshour reported that there may be a risk of radioactive leakage following the explosion at a French nuclear plant that killed one person and injured three others.

The tragedy came out as Kenya struggles to reassure travellers after a kidnapping and murder incident of a British couple in a remote area near the border with Somalia.

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