Kenya: Landslide Death Toll in West Pokot Rises to 43

The rains have destroyed a huge section of the Kitale-Lodwar road.
24 November 2019

Nairobi — The death toll from Saturday's landslide in West Pokot has risen to 43, with focus shifted to help for displaced families.

Dozens of families are homeless after their house were buried by a landslide or swept away by floods remote villages following heavy rainfall pounding various parts of the country.

"I have received reports from search teams that the death toll has risen to 43," said John Lonyangapuo, area Governor. He was referring to teams in Tawaka;, Nyarkulian and Tapach which took heavy casualties from the tragedy.

Regional Commissioner George Natembeya was set to issue a statement later Sunday.

On Saturday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi said the government had "deployed military and police choppers to scale up responses and respond to immediate needs of affected families while rescue and recovery efforts remain a priority."

Affected families were camping in schools, churches and other facilities far from their villages where houses were submerged, covering even animals.

"It is a major disaster, I have lost my family and my cows," said Joseph Edapal.

Government response teams and the Kenya Cross Society had been relocating affected families in neighbouring homes and survivors to far-flung areas to avoid a repeat of the tragedy.

An official involved in the search operation said "The problem we are facing is where we are taking the bodies because the local mortuary Is full beyond capacity and bodies now have to be taken to Kapenguria."

"We are also facing resistance from people who don't want to move because they want to be allowed to bury their kin," he added.

The rains have paralyzed transport in some parts of the country after rendering roads impassable and bridges swept away.

The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) has urged motorists to exercise caution while driving during this rainy season.

According to the weatherman, the rainfall is expected to continue for the entire season with occasional breaks.

The Kenya Meteorological Department has warned of heavy rain throughout next week, with up to 30mm raising fears of more devastating effects in various parts of the country.

Regions likely to be affected include Western, South Eastern, Northwestern, Northeastern and central regions including Nairobi.

"The current heavy rains being experienced over several parts of the country are expected to continue on Sunday 24 November 2019 and 25 November. The rainfall intensities are expected to reduce from Wednesday over several parts of Kenya," reads an alert from the Met department.

It warned residents to be "on the lookout for potential floods, they are also advised to avoid driving through, or walking in moving water or open fields and not to shelter under trees and near grilled windows to minimize exposure to lightning strikes," states the alert."

President Uhuru Kenyatta has already ordered authorities to relocate residents in floods and landslide-prone areas following Saturday's tragedy in West Pokot where more than 30 people died, with many more still missing after their villages were swept off.

"I have directed Regional Commissioners in flood and landslide-prone regions of our country to work very closely with our security and humanitarian teams to ensure that citizens in these areas are urgently moved to safer grounds," President Kenyatta said in a statement from State House.

In Meru National Park, three tourists and their driver were rescued after their vehicle was swept off on River Rojeweru.

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