5 missing in Nairobi building collapse
NAIROBI: About 5 people were missing after a seven-storey building collapsed in a residential area of Nairobi, rescue services said yesterday,
The city’s governor appealed to its owner to come forward and provide architectural plans to help rescuers. Governor Evans Kidero, speaking at the scene, said at least 30 000 to 40 000 buildings constructed without approval in the Kenyan capital were at risk.
Officials said the tenants had been asked to leave on Monday after reporting cracks in the walls.
“People evacuated but some might have been left behind,” said Pius Masai, deputy director of the National Disaster Management Unit.
Kenya has seen similar tragedies in the past. A total of 49 people died in the middle of last year when another building collapsed during a heavy, night-time downpour in a poor neighbourhood after whichthe government ordered the demolition of many other buildings.
“We hadn’t got to a point where we were going to demolish it,” Kidero said of the collapsed building.
The structure had been listed for demolition. Residents said they had noticed cracks a week earlier and that they were plastered over with cement by its owners, before re-emerging again on Monday morning, prompting the call to leave.
The advice to leave spared some who might have been trapped when the building came down.
“Some came from work late and tried to go in and collect their goods,” said Dennis Mosoti, a tenant in the building.
Rescuers drawn from various government departments, including the youth service, dug through the rubble with bare hands, pulling out items like broken beds, mattresses and television sets.
This was after a specialist unit from the military cut through walls and floors at the top.
Distraught relatives stood nearby and watched.
They included David Kisa, who said he got a call at work on Monday night about the collapse. His wife and three children were still missing at lunchtime yesterday.
Most of the risky buildings are usually in the poorer sections of the city. Attempts to deal with the problem in the past have been stymied by owners of the buildings, who rush to court to stop demolition or other actions.
Kidero asked magistrates and judges to consider the human cost of unsafe buildings before issuing court orders against demolition.
“They should not come in our way because the result is what we have seen here,”Kidero went on to say. – Reuters
Emergency personnel work at the scene after a building collapsed in a residential area of Nairobi, Kenya yesterday.