Death toll from Kenya tanker fire­ball hits 40

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

The death toll from a fire­ball caused by a crash in­volv­ing a tanker car­ry­ing flammable ma­te­ri­als rose to 40 yes­ter­day, as Kenya faced calls to im­prove safety on its per­ilous roads. The east African na­tion was left reel­ing by dev­as­tat­ing scenes from the crash late Satur­day in which the tanker ploughed into 11 ve­hi­cles, leav­ing a trail of in­cin­er­ated wreck­age and bod­ies along the main road lead­ing west from Nairobi to­wards Uganda.

Of­fi­cials ini­tially put the death toll at 33, but af­ter scour­ing the scene, res­cue work­ers-some in haz­mat suits-found six more bod­ies in the bush of peo­ple who tried to flee the scene, a se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer told AFP. And one of the in­jured suc­cumbed to their wounds in hospi­tal. “We have 34 bod­ies at Chi­romo mor­tu­ary and six at Keny­atta Univer­sity mor­tu­ary,” said Nathaniel Kig­otho, di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Dis­as­ter Op­er­a­tions Cen­tre.

He said all of the vic­tims would have to un­dergo DNA test­ing to be iden­ti­fied. The dead in­clude 11 of­fi­cers of the Gen­eral Ser­vice Unit, a para­mil­i­tary po­lice force. “Scenes from hell” was the head­line on Kenya’s Daily Na­tion news­pa­per which ran sto­ries of brave res­cues and dar­ing es­capes from the in­ferno. One mo­torist called Ka­mau said he man­aged to jump out of his car just in time, but wit­nessed grisly scenes in­clud­ing a man run­ning for his life as flames con­sumed him. “I am not sure if he sur­vived,” he said.

Road no­to­ri­ously dan­ger­ous

Kenya’s Red Cross said the driver had lost con­trol of the tanker which then crashed into 11 other ve­hi­cles and “burst into flames”. Po­lice and wit­nesses have blamed new speed bumps which have ap­peared along the no­to­ri­ous­ly­dan­ger­ous high­way with­out any warn­ing signs-a com­mon oc­cur­rence on Kenyan roads.”The dis­as­ter once again demon­strates the per­ils on our roads which have per­sisted de­spite in­ter­ven­tions to make travel safer,” read an ed­i­to­rial in the Daily Na­tion, which high­lighted con­fus­ing traf­fic rules which are of­ten not en­forced.

Large trucks are sup­posed to be banned from trav­el­ling along cer­tain roads at night. Traf­fic rules are of­ten flouted in Kenya where cor­rup­tion and the brib­ing of po­lice of­fi­cials is rife. The busy Nairobi-Nakuru high­way is no­to­ri­ous for deadly ac­ci­dents. In 2009, over 100 peo­ple were killed and 200 in­jured af­ter a petrol tanker over­turned and lo­cal peo­ple gath­ered to col­lect the leak­ing fuel then a fire broke out. Ac­cord­ing to Kenya’s traf­fic depart­ment, some 3,000 peo­ple die an­nu­ally on the coun­try’s roads. But the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) be­lieves the fig­ure could be as high as 12,000. — AFP

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