Widespread floods hit Kenya, at least 19 killed and scores injured

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Three days of heavy rain caused widespread flooding across Kenya this week, killing at least 19 people and injuring and displacing scores of others. Heavy rains are expected to continue for at least 5 more days.

The deaths happened as flood and river waters hit regions that experienced severe drought months earlier, officials said, adding that Kenya declared the drought a national disaster last year.

The Kenya police warned residents against driving in severe weather conditions as floods destroyed and damaged roads and bridges as well as homes and other buildings.

Nairobi, the capital and largest city of Kenya, saw first drops of rain at 06:30 local time Thursday but the morning downpour quickly flooded parts of it, wreaking havoc for commuters headed to work. 

While the entire central business district was under water, some of the flood hotspots included Moi Avenue, Tom Mboya, Racecourse Road, Ronald Ngala Street, Haile Selassie Avenue, Temple Road, Kimathi Street among others. 

Major roads and highways such as Mombasa Road, Uhuru Highway, Jogoo road and Limuru Road were also adversely affected, the Daily Nation reported.

The Joska-Kamulu bridge was later washed away by River Athi, cutting off Kangundo Road.

Three people were killed Wednesday evening in Nakuru and Narok counties after flash floods hit the region. Among the victims was a secondary school student.

At least four people died while trying to cross flooded River Athi on Thursday.

Five people died in Kitui County after they were swept away by the Enzu River in Mwingi East Sub-County. 

Two children, aged 5 and 8, died in Taita Taveta after they drowned in separate incidents. In Mwatate, a five-year-old boy was swept away by floods as he tried to cross Mwatate River. The police said he was heading home from school.

In Meru, a man was swept by floods at Mugae along the Ruiri-Isiolo road following the heavy on Thursday evening. County police commander Fred Ochieng said the father of the deceased reported that his son was grazing goats when he drowned.

Another boy, aged 8, drowned in Taveta on Friday while swimming in an abandoned quarry in Lesesia area.

At least 3 people were killed and two are still missing after they were swept away by floodwaters on Friday evening in Samburu East. The two missing men are feared dead, the Daily Nation reported.

The victims, all from Isiolo, were said to have been loading sand into the vehicle when they were swept away.

The Kenya National Highways Authority warned motorists and members of the public on March 16 that a drift at Kainuk, along the Kitale – Lokichar – Lodwar – Nadapal (A1) Road Corridor has been overtopped by floods. “We urge all motorists with heavy equipment to be patient until the water levels subside. Additionally, apply absolute caution on all drift areas along this corridor.”

The Kainuk Bridge is intact and in use by light vehicles and pedestrians. Motorists and pedestrians were urged to exercise caution and not to attempt to cross any sections of the road corridor that are overtopped by floodwaters.

The Lower Hill Road was closed as a precautionary measure on March 15 and motorists advised to use alternative roads such as Bunyala, Haille Sellasie, Elgon and Upper Hill Roads.

On the same day, the water level at Stony Athi Bridge on A8 between Athi River and Kyumvi (Machakos Turnoff) has risen above deck level, forcing authorities to close the traffic. The bridge was reopened on March 16 as water levels reduced to safe levels and repairs to erosion-damaged approaches started.

“While the bridge has now been re-opened to traffic, road users are requested to exercise care and strictly follow traffic control instructions from the officers on site. Further disruptions may be necessary as part of the reinstatement process. Patience and cooperation are requested should this occur,” the agency said.

Metrologists warned that heavy rains are expected to continue for another five days.

The country is currently in its rainy season which runs from March to May.

Featured image: Truck overturned by floodwaters at Kainuk bridge, Kenya – March 2018. Credit: EMS Kenya

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