Kenya floods: Dozens missing after weeks of heavy rain

Mai Mahiu, Kenya

At least 91 people are still missing Heavy floods The Kenyan government said on Tuesday that heavy rains and massive floods had swept parts of the country around the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

About 76 people are missing after flooding near the hard-hit town of Mai Mahiu, northwest of Nairobi. Local residents and first responders told CNN that the disaster was caused by water flowing through a blocked tunnel under a railway bridge. So far, 71 people have been confirmed dead as a result of this accident.

Government spokesman Isaac Mwaura said another 10 people were missing in Kenya's eastern region, four in Nairobi County and one in the coastal region bordering the Indian Ocean.

The floods also displaced 190,942 Kenyans, which Mwaura said was about 5,000 more than on Monday.

“Nairobi County is the most affected county with 147,000 Kenyans displaced, and therefore represents 77% of the total displaced people in the country,” he said.

The CNN team on the ground said a strong smell in one area of ​​Mai Mahiu led villagers to believe there was a body under a pile of uprooted trees and mud.

One resident, a motorcycle taxi rider, who did not want to reveal his name, told CNN that he provided fuel for an electric saw that was used to cut down uprooted trees.

“Ask the government to send us excavators,” he said.

Kenyan President William Ruto has ordered the army to deploy personnel to help find missing people.

The CNN team said that the body of a young man was recovered from the rubble of floods earlier on Tuesday in the same area after a ringing mobile phone prompted neighbors to start digging. They say it took hours of digging by residents on Monday and Tuesday for them to recover that body.

Mwaura said the government had established 52 “displacement camps” – an increase of two since Monday – to provide those affected by the floods with “alternative temporary housing”.

He added, “The weather forecast for the period from April 30 to May 6 indicates that rain is expected to continue in several areas of the country,” warning that it “threatens to exacerbate the ongoing floods.”

Mwaura also noted that the government is “providing food and non-food items and providing rescue and evacuation operations.”

Kenya has witnessed heavy rains since mid-March, but the rainfall intensified over the past week, leading to mass floods that killed dozens.

“Kenya faces a worsening flood crisis due to the combined effects of El Niño and persistent prolonged rains from March to May 2024,” Secretary-General and Executive Director of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Jagan Chapagin He said in a post on Xreferring to the climate pattern that originates in the Pacific Ocean along the equator and affects weather around the world.

“Since November 2023, El Niño has caused devastating floods and overflowing rivers, causing more than a hundred deaths and widespread damage.”

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The Horn of Africa, a region in eastern Africa that includes Kenya, is one of the most climate-vulnerable regions in the world. Heavy rains also affected Tanzania and Burundi.

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The impact of the recent rains in Kenya may have been exacerbated by the fact that they fell on extremely dry soil after years of catastrophic drought, which affected many parts of Kenya, killing livestock and crops and causing widespread hunger and water insecurity. This drought is made 100 times more likely due to pollution caused by heating the planet due to fossil fuels, according to the April World Weather Attribution report. analysis is found.

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