The Nation (Nairobi)

25 September 2007

Kenya: Ten People Feared Dead in City Blast

Nairobi — At least ten people were last night feared dead following an explosion at a steel factory off Mombasa Road.

Staff at Devki Steel Works were melting metal when a boiler exploded, killing at least 8 on the spot. Six were burnt beyond recognition.

Colleagues said two died at the factory entrance as they were being taken to hospital.

By 11pm, hundreds of workers and relatives were at the Athi River factory to know the fate of their loved ones. Rescue workers, including the Kenya Power and Lighting Company staff had a hard time. Bodies were still trapped near the furnace following the 9pm blast.

Tears flowed, and confusion reigned, with relatives kept at bay by the heat from the inferno.

Among those who arrived at the scene were Machakos District Commissioner John Litunda and members of the district security committee.

Mr Litunda said 11 workers were taken to Kenyatta National Hospital, while two more were being treated at Mutunguni Dispensary, metres away from the scene.

"Right now it's difficult to know what happened. We're waiting for experts," said Mr Litunda, adding that he could only confirm five deaths.

But the Nation counted 6 bodies, while the workers said at least five workers were missing.

Police escort

Senior factory management arrived after 11.30pm under tight police escort. The DC said the public was baying for their blood.

By midnight, rescue teams were still going through the rubble in the dark with spotlights.

In July last year, ten people were killed after a fire swept through a chemical factory on Mombasa Road behind Libra House.

Chemicals that were packed in several drums at the affected company's warehouse fuelled the fire.

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