Building Collapse in Nairobi Leaves at Least Four Dead, 29 Injured

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NAIROBI — At least four people were dead and 29 injured after a six-story residential building collapsed in the Kenyan capital on Friday after weeks of heavy rains, a government official said.

Rescuers were still searching for survivors as the night wore on, said the official, Wilson Njenga, the Nairobi regional commissioner.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the collapse of the building. Kenya has been the site of several disastrous building collapses in recent years, leading commentators to blame the government for failing to enforce regulations and conduct inspections.

But heavy downpours might also have played a role in the collapse on Friday. The annual “short rains” in Kenya which usually last from October to December, have been exceptionally heavy this year.

At least 132 people have been killed and more than 160,000 others have been affected by flooding in 31 out of Kenya’s 47 counties, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Th six-story building in Nairobi, located in the southeast neighborhood of Embakasi, housed nearly two dozen families and crumpled at about 9 a.m., according to Peter Abwao, a spokesman for Kenya Red Cross.

Videos and images from the scene, broadcast over local television and shared on social media, showed emergency teams conducting rescue operations next to the rubble. Large crowds gathered in the area, watching the teams working in the mud caused by the heavy rainfall.

On Tuesday, Kenya’s disaster agency warned of increasing rainfall and floods this week in cities including Nairobi.

Rain or not, it isn’t the first time a building gave way in Kenya either because of poor structural design or sloppy construction. In September, a school collapse in Nairobi killed seven students and injured many more. In 2015, 51 people were killed after a building crumbled following heavy rains.

Carlos Mureithi contributed reporting.

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