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Kenya’s Patel dam burst ’causes huge destruction’

A dam burst in Kenya on Wednesday night after heavy rain, causing “huge destruction” and killing at least 27 people, police say.

The breach happened on farmland near the town of Solai, 190km (120 miles) north-west of the capital, Nairobi.

The dead are thought to include children and women trapped in mud.

The Kenyan Red Cross says it has rescued some 40 people so far. More than 2,000 people are said to have been left homeless.

Local officials say the full extent of the damage is not yet clear.

There are fears the death toll could rise as the search-and-rescue operation continues

Nakuru County police chief Gideon Kibunjah said that 27 bodies had been recovered so far.

This included 11 bodies, mostly of women and children, covered with mud at a coffee plantation, an unnamed police officer told AFP news agency.

It seemed that they had been fleeing, but “could not make it due to the force and speed of the water from the flooded dam”, the officer added.

The Patel dam in Nakuru County broke its walls, and swept away hundreds of homes downstream, reports the BBC’s Ferdinand Omondi in the capital, Nairobi.

Witnesses said they heard a loud bang before the waves swept through nearly 2km (1.2 miles) of private farmland where many live and work.

“The water has caused huge destruction of both life and property. The extent of the damage has yet to be ascertained,” said Lee Kinyajui, governor of Nakuru County.

The Patel dam is one of three reservoirs owned by a large-scale farmer in the area.

Its walls are said to have caved in due to the high volumes of water following heavy rains that have been pounding the country.

Local leaders are now seeking to find out whether the farmer was licensed to erect those dams, amid concerns about the condition of the remaining two which are also said to be full, our correspondent says.

He has not yet commented.

The toll now brings to nearly 160 the number of people who have died countrywide as a result of heavy rains since March, according to official statistics.

More than 220,000 people have also had their homes destroyed.

BBC

 

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