Massive Dam Just Broke: 47 Dead, More Casualties

May 10, 2018 Updated: May 10, 2018

The death toll from flooding caused by a burst dam wall in Kenya’s Rift Valley rose to 47 on Thursday, May 10, and may go higher as more bodies are being pulled from the mud, a local police chief said.

“So far it is 47 dead. We are still on the ground,” Japheth Kioko, the police chief for Rongai division, told Reuters.

Locals on the ground described the devastation following the break of the Patel Dam, which also left dozens of people injured.

“We took our children and rushed to higher ground,” farmer Joseph Maina told The Associated Press. He said his family’s home was submerged and their crops were washed away.

Some residents told local newspaper The Nation that they heard an explosion before water poured out of the stricken structure.

“We found 11 of the bodies covered with mud at a coffee plantation and these are people who may have been escaping but could not make it due to the force and speed of the water from the flooded dam,” a local official, who was not named, told the paper. “Most of them are women and children who could not have been able to run fast, and the elderly.”

Fred Matiang’i, a local official, also warned that the death toll could be much greater.

“We are handling this matter with an open mind to find out whether the accident would have been prevented. For now, it is an ordinary accident where a dam broke its banks and water flew sweeping families along the path,” he said, according to the Kenya Star.“As much as it is a tragedy it has however provided an opportunity to examine the type of works conducted on our dams especially those privately owned.”

He added, “Let us not speculate and point out fingers as to whether the owner of the dam is to blame or government. Everything will be investigated and reviewed for sensible conclusions after which we shall come up with suggestions and remedial actions.”


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