Written By:KBC reporters/agencies, Posted: Mon, Sep 12, 2011
At least 120 people were burnt to death after a leaking pipeline belonging to Kenya Pipeline Company burst into flames along Lunga Lunga road in Nairobi’s Industrial Area.
Police said a large number of people had perished and it was proving difficult to establish the exact figure because some charred remains were found huddled in groups.
Reports suggest Monday’s blast may have been sparked by a cigarette butt being thrown into an open sewer that was filling with fuel.
The fuel had leaked from a tank in a depot belonging to the Kenya Pipeline Company, police spokesman Charles Owino told Reuters news agency.
Residents said the spill had prompted many people to rush and collect leaking fuel.
Parts of bodies littered the remains of burning shacks for some 300m (1,000ft) around the site of the blast, locals said.
Police Spokesman confirmed that 75 people have been confirmed dead so far adding that 118 are admitted in hospitals within Nairobi as follows: Kenyatta National Hospital 112, Nairobi Metropolitan Hospital 1, and Mater Hospital 5.
Kenyatte NationalHospital is appealing for blood donation, water, beddings and room heaters to help manage the fire victims who sustained 30 degree burns.
One of the survivors, Jane Mumbua, said many people were close to the pipeline at the time of the blast.
“I just heard a big blast and that’s when I started seeing people on fire. All around me there was fire,” she said.
Kenya Pipeline Company in a statement admitted there was a spillage of its petroleum products from its Nairobi-Mombasa pipeline.
KPC Managing Director Selest Kilinda said the upon detection, they shut down the pipeline to contain the spillage which had already flowed to the storm water drain leading to Sinai.
He said emergency teams including KPC engineers tried to depressurize the section of the pipeline but the fire had already broken out.
The company regretted the incident adding it had set up an information desk at Kenpipe plaza to deal with inquiries.
The management has at the same time cautioned those in possession of the spilled product saying its highly inflammable.
Motorists have also been warned not to buy petroleum products from unlicensed persons
Firefighters scrambled across the corrugated rooftops of burning shacks to pour foam on petrol that flowed down the slum’s muddy alleyways. Ambulances ferried dozens of wounded to nearby hospitals.
Several leaders including legislators, Ministers, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka visited the scene to condole the victims.
Nairobi Town Clerk Phillip Kisia who visited the said fire fighters had counted at least 120 bodies at the scene.
Badly charred bodies littered the area, while some were piled into the Nairobi River, which passes by.
They died as they tried to swim across the river to safety.
“There is an informal school inside the slum, they have all been burnt,” Daniel Mutinda, a spokesman for the Kenya Red Cross, said.
Journalists at the scene said they had counted more than 120 dead bodies.
Rescue efforts had been hamphered by lack of access roads to the sprawling slum. Lunga Lunga road was also been closed and residents in the nearby buildings evacuated.
A counselling center has been set up at city stadium.
There have been other deaths in Kenya involving people collecting leaking fuel.
More than 100 people died in Molo, western Kenya, in 2009 after a fire on an overturned tanker.