22 December 2013

Kenya: 6 Injured After Cargo Train Derails in Kibera

Photo: Kenya Red Cross
Kenya Red Cross assisting victims of train accident in Nairobi's Kibera slums.

Nairobi — At least six people were rescued and taken to hospital with injuries after a cargo train destined to Uganda derailed in Kibera slum, Nairobi destroying houses and kiosks.

Transport Secretary Michael Kamau who led the rescue operations said efforts were concentrated getting the train wreckage from the site.

The train was carrying about 1000 tonnes of wheat to Kampala, Uganda when it derailed in the early morning hours of Sunday.

"We have rescued six people who have been taken to hospital with injuries," Kamau said.

He has vowed to ensure the area close to the railway line is cleared to avoid future disasters.

"The people found the railway here and it's not the railway that found the people," said agitated CS, insisting, "these people must be moved out of this place."

In 2007, a group of youth destroyed part of the railway line, during demonstrations over the disputed presidential election.

"The cargo that was on this train was headed to Uganda, and I just don't know what President (Yoweri) Museveni is thinking about at the moment. We had the same situation in 2007 that we brought it upon ourselves, and here is another one," the cabinet secretary said.

Johnson Maina of the Nairobi Fire department said among those rescued was a man who was trapped under the debris, when they arrived at about 9 am.

"When we arrived, we were told that there was a man trapped and indeed he was crying for help. So we started to dig immediately and we managed to rescue him. When he came out, he was talking and a chance to express his gratitude for saving his life. He had a broken limb," Maina said.

The government has blamed politicians for encouraging people to stay and do business along the railway line, oblivious of the dangers facing them.

"I would say those who encourage them to stay here, should take the front line and come stay with them and maybe share the pain and sorrow when this happens," Kamau told journalists at the scene, amid heckling from the crowd of onlookers.

Residents interviewed blamed the Kenya Railways department of failing to maintain the rail line.

"I blame the Kenya Railway maintenance people. When they came the other day, some parts of the metals were left loose and that is what the train hit and derailed," Henry Omokuvi, one of the residents speculated.

Nairobi Senator Mike Mbuvi was among leaders who arrived at the scene to calm the crowd, calling on all the leaders to stop any blame game and instead find a lasting solution.

One of Africa's largest slums, Kibera's tin-roofed shacks are home to an estimated quarter of a million people, according to an NGO that carried out a population study there.

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