At least 120 dead in Kenyan pipeline fire

At least 120 dead in Kenyan pipeline fire

Flames leapt out from the pipeline in a radius of some 300 metres, setting shacks ablaze and incinerating scores of people. Reporters later saw clusters of charred bodies and blackened bones at the site. Some burned bodies floated in a nearby river filled with sewage. Homes had been built right up to the pipeline, the residents said.

“I’ve lost count of the number of bodies,” said Wilfred Mbithi, the policeman in charge of operations in Nairobi as he stood at the scene. “Many had dived into the river trying to put out their flames.”

Red Cross official Pamela Indiaka said the Red Cross is providing body bags and has dealt with 75 bodies so far. The death toll from the blast may still rise.

Nearby, a young woman clawed through smouldering timbers, screaming in grief. Others wandered by the remains of the inferno, frantically dialling phone numbers that didn’t go through or staring around in disbelief.

Fires still smouldered among the twisted wreckage of corrugated iron sheets and scattered possessions.

Resident Joseph Mwangi, 34, said he was feeding his cow when people went running past him, calling out that there was a leak in the pipeline. He said others started drawing fuel and that he was going to go and get a bucket and get fuel too when he heard an explosion around 9 am. By then fuel had leaked into the river and parts of the river had also caught fire. People in flames were jumping into the fiery, stinking mess.

Moments after speaking to the AP, Mwangi discovered two small charred bodies in the burnt wreckage of his home.

“Those were my children,” he said blankly, before collapsing on the ground sobbing.
Another man, Michael Muriuki, found the body of his 5-year-old daughter still smouldering. He ran to the river for water to put her out. He took a deep breath and struggled for control before speaking.

“Her name was Josephine Muriuki. She was five,” he said.

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