'Illegal' Dam Bursts in Solai, Hundreds Killed and Displaced

12 May, 2018, 00:53 | Author: Kelly Blake
  • Volunteers search for survivors in a residential area after a dam bursts in northern Kenya

On Friday morning Kenya's chief prosecutor Noordin Haji ordered the opening of a police investigation into the tragedy "to establish cause and culpability".

There are reports of many people still missing and a possibility that the death toll could increase.

Water from the dam in Solai near the rift valley city of Nakuru wiped out two villages and swept away powerlines.

The disaster is likely to put a spotlight on regulation of Kenya's cut-flower industry, which has grown dramatically in the last two decades to become one of the biggest foreign exchange earners in East Africa's top economy and a major source of jobs.

Residents at and around the area where the dam was located said that they could hear an explosion, following which the water came in and swept away several homes in the area as well as homes on the expansive Nyakinyua Farm, bordering the water reservoir, the Nation reported. Authorities say the dam was built illegally on private land, and residents fear other dams built without permission could also collapse. "Please, let the people know that everything is under control", he assured.

Vinod Jayakumar said the heart wrenching occurrence of Wednesday, May 9, would not have occurred if it were not for the heavy rains which continue to fall in many parts of the country.

The dam was one of several on the Patel Coffee Estate farm near Solai, 120 miles from Nairobi. "It is a carefully managed and monitored process", Mongo said.

He asked citizens to stop speculations on the tragedy as the government investigates the incident, including claims that the dam was illegal.

Nakuru governor Lee Kinyanjui said 450 homes had been hit by the floodwaters and safety engineers had been sent to inspect three other dams to check for cracks or breaches.

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"For the last one year, we have been trying to engage the company on how to legalise the dams but they have been reluctant".

"I share my deepest condolence to the community".

He called the dam's failure a natural disaster caused by overflow from rivers in the nearby Dundori Forest.

"In the past two days the intensity of the rain was high and the water started coming down carrying boulders and roots which damaged the wall", he told Reuters.

"The number of the people who died is likely to increase", she added.

The Kenya Red Cross said it was supporting about 500 displaced families following the tragedy. We are always with you.

The Patel Farm which sits on a 3, 000 acre piece of land is owned by the Solai Group of Companies, and is one of the most successful family businesses in Kenya now being managed by sons after their father died of old age a few years ago.

It's used to elongate the flowers exported daily to the Netherlands and Germany, and for fish farming.

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