NAIROBI, 3 JUNE — At least two people were confirmed dead and four others rescued after a five-storey building collapsed at a residential estate in Kenya’s capital Nairobi early Sunday.
Sterehe divisional police commander Alice Kimeli said three people are undergoing treatment at hospitals as search and rescue operations continue for an unknown number of people trapped inside.
The National Disaster Management Unit (NDMU) Deputy Director Pius Masai said those on the ground had mobilized equipment to help rescue the trapped victims, noting that accessing the site is the main challenge.
“We have done assessment and there is no access for machinery equipment. Multi stakeholders have resolved to safely knock down one side of temporary residential structures in order to create access for rescue,” he added.
It is not clear how many people are still trapped in the rubble after the 1:30 a.m. incident. But some locals said many of the tenants had vacated the structure hours earlier after realizing the building had developed cracks.
Kenya Red Cross, through their twitter account, said four people had been rescued and rushed to hospital. The charity said rescuers had challenges accessing the site due to poor or lack of roads leading there.
It is not the first time such an incident happens in the same area. In April 2016, another building collapsed in the same area and killed at least 52 people.
Experts say the East African nation has a vibrant construction industry that has become a huge boost to the nation’s real estate sector, with hundreds of houses being put up across the country each day.
However, the increased building collapse incidents especially during this rainy season points to the weaknesses in the booming industry, according to experts.
More than five storied buildings have tumbled in the last three months in the capital Nairobi due to heavy rain.
On April 29, a seven-storey building next to the Nairobi River came tumbling down after days of heavy rain. It was said to be erected on a riparian land, using substandard materials and uncouth means.
The disaster promoted the county and national governments to mount a crackdown to wipe away all unsafe buildings in Nairobi, targeting about 226 structures, but the exercise did not go far for lack of support. – XINHUA