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Over 40 People Killed as Dam Owned by Indian-Origin Farmer Bursts in Kenya

Over 40 people were killed and more than 2,000 rendered homeless as water gushed out of the dam owned by Mansukul Patel at Solai in Kenya.

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More than 40 people were killed and over 2,000 people rendered homeless after a dam owned by an Indian-origin farmer burst due to heavy rainfall in Kenya on May 9.

The dam, owned by Mansukul Patel, had started showing cracks and water had begun to leak, before its banks broke. Several people were swept away in the strong current. The breach took place near Solai, north-west of Kenya’s capital Nairobi, Standard Media reported.

“Many people are missing. It is a disaster,” Joseph Kioko, chief of police in the town of Rongai, was quoted as saying by the Guardian.

A probe has been launched to evaluate why the dam could not contain water, Kenya’s Interior Cabinet Minister Fred Matiang’i said. The investigation will also assess the stability of six other dams located in the area.

Patel, a large-scale irrigation farmer, owns three water reservoirs, including the mega dam at Solai. He was not at the scene when the incident happened, and no statement has been issued by him yet regarding the tragedy. The Patel dam is said to have been used for irrigation and fish farming purposes.

The death toll has risen to 44, and 40 people have been reported as missing, according to Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui. “One of the dams will have to be discharged to avoid disaster. A technical team comprising engineers from National and County Government Water departments are working to discharge the water safely,” Kinyanjui said on the social media.

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.

“We found 11 of the bodies covered with mud at a coffee plantation and these are people who may have been escaping but could not make it due to the force and speed of the water from the flooded dam. Most of them are women and children who could not have been able to run fast, and the elderly,” said a senior police officer at the scene, the Nation reported.

The dam, which is located on the upper side of the farm where locals live and work in low-lying areas, has raised several questions. Kinyanjui said that the government will probe whether Patel had the license for setting up the reservoirs.

“It was a sea of water,” Veronica Wanjiku Ngigi, a survivor, said, Reuters reported. “My neighbor was killed when the water smashed through the wall of his house. He was blind so he could not run. They found his body in the morning. My other neighbors also died. All our houses have been ruined,” she added.

Heavy torrential rains have killed 132 people across Kenya since March, according to official statistics, BBC reported, while over 220,000 people have lost their homes.

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