60 killed as homes swept away amid torrential rain in Kenya landslides
At least 60 people are dead after devastating rains caused huge landslides in West Pokot County, Kenya, in the early hours of Saturday, 23 November 2019. The country has seen mass displacement and villages buried under earth after floods and relentless torrential rain. Samuel Poghisio, a senator from the county, said, “We can confirm that the number of those dead has sadly reached 60. Some people who we thought were lost have been found dead.” According to West Pokot county governor, John Lonyangapuo, 11 of those who died were from the same house. He added, “More people are marooned and the entire village is at risk of being wiped out by the floods.”
Interior cabinet secretary Fred Matiangi claims 17 people died in a mudslide in the village of Takmal in the Pokot Central district, while 12 others lost their lives in mudslides in the villages of Parua and Tapach in Pokot South.
He said the government sent military and police helicopters to help those affected by the floods but the scope of the disaster was not yet clear.
Matiangi added, “While rescue and recovery efforts remain the priority, a full assessment into the extent of damage caused continues to be a challenge due to harsh weather conditions.”
West Pokot County Commissioner Apollo Okello also said five other people died when their car was swept away on the road between Kitale and Lodwar after two rivers overflowed their banks.
President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta offered sincere condolences to bereaved families. He said in a statement, “My thoughts and prayers and those of our entire nation are with families, friends and relatives of those who lost their beloved ones in the unfortunate incident. Please accept my heartfelt condolences. To those who were injured in the calamitous incident and are receiving treatment in different hospitals, I pray for your quick recovery and restoration.”
The Kenya Red Cross has moved into affected areas to help with the rescue operation and the government says they have launched their own, Tuko reports. On Twitter, the Red Cross said: “Massive landslides reported in various areas of West Pokot County following heavy downpour. Response teams activated. Details to follow.”
The Kenya Red Cross also claims that in Mikinduri, Meru County, a number of houses have reportedly been swept away after the river Thanantu broke its banks.
In Bomet county, at least 40 families have been displaced and 30 residential houses have been submerged in floodwater in the trading centre of the county, the Daily Nation reports. According to Bomet County medical executive Dr Joseph Sitonik, the flooding is also a fertile breeding ground for mosquitos and could expose residents to malaria, the paper added.
The Kenya Meteorological Department said, “Floodwaters may suddenly appear even in places where it has not rained before and can be deeper and faster than they look. Residents are advised to avoid driving through, or walking in moving water or open fields.”
The recent spate of floods come after at least 29 people drowned last month and 11 000 were displaced in the African nation due to flooding.
According to the International Rescue Committee, many people had been reeling from an earlier severe drought in the region. Now rains in parts of Somalia, South Sudan and Kenya are expected for four to six more weeks.
The torrential rain is uncommon for this time of year. Experts have said the changing weather patterns have a huge impact because close to 100 per cent of Kenya’s agriculture is rain-fed.
Source: The Independant