A dam burst its banks in Kenya’s Rift Valley, killing at least 38 people and forcing hundreds from their homes, officials said Thursday.
Water burst through the banks of the Patel Dam in Solai, Nakuru County, on Wednesday night, sweeping away hundreds of homes, including those on the expansive Nyakinyua Farm, which borders the reservoir.
“We have recovered 38 bodies and many people are missing. It is a disaster,” said Rongai police chief Joseph Kioko. Almost an entire village was swept by silt and water, said Gideon Kibunja the county police chief in charge of criminal investigations.
Up to 40 people have been rescued from the mud and taken to hospital Thursday morning in rescue operations by the Kenya Red Cross and Nakuru County disaster management teams. Many more are feared still trapped. Officials said the dam water and mud spewed out of the reservoir and submerged homes over a radius of nearly 2 kilometers (1.2 miles).
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi was set to visit the site Thursday.
At least 132 people have died since March from floods caused by seasonal rains, Kenya’s government said Wednesday. The deaths from the dam burst raise the death toll to nearly 170 people. At least 225,436 people have been displaced from their homes, according to a government statement. Military helicopters and personnel have for the past week been deployed to rescue people marooned by the flooding.
The floods hit as this East African nation was recovering from a severe drought that had affected half of the country.