Kenya rescuers search for bodies after deadly fire

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - 17:39

Nairobi: Rescue teams on Tuesday searched through the smoking ashes of a Kenyan slum razed when a pipeline burst into flames, with 92 charred bodies already found and the death toll still rising.

A city council official had estimated the number of victims at 120 on Monday after the blazing fuel pipeline torched Nairobi`s Sinai slum and police said Tuesday that 92 bodies had already been recovered.

"We collected a total of 76 bodies last evening and this morning. 16 more has been collected," said Thomas Atuti, a police commander in the area.

"We believe there are many more still lying around mostly in the river that passes in the slum," he added.

Rescue officials returned to the site Tuesday to search for more bodies from the rubble and help survivors.

Many of the victims were burnt beyond recognition, some scorched to the bone and others to ashes. The fire also damaged several tin shelters in the shanty town just outside central Nairobi.

Some residents said siphoning oil from the pipeline was a common practice which often draws long queues of people who later sell the fuel.

After the fuel exploded Monday, some jumped into a nearby stream to try to extinguish the flames, but many succumbed to their injuries in the water.

On the charred grass, bodies were strewn with their limbs folded inwards while some lay in trenches.

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon expressed sorrow Monday for the victims.

"The United Nations stands in solidarity with the people of Kenya at this difficult moment," said a statement issued by his office, wishing those hospitalised a speedy recovery.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga also expressed sympathy with the victims.

"It is a terrible, terrible situation. It is sad to see our people lose their lives like this," Odinga said Monday.

Fuel leaks and oil tanker accidents in Africa often attract huge crowds scrambling to scoop fuel, resulting in many deaths due to accidental fires.

In 2009, 122 people were killed after a fire erupted while they were drawing fuel from an overturned tanker in western Kenya.

Bureau Report



First Published: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - 17:39

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