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Kenya flood toll rises to 181 as homes and roads are destroyed

FLOODS and landslides across Kenya have killed 181 people since March, with hundreds of thousands forced to leave their homes, the government and Red Cross said, as dozens more were killed in neighbouring Tanzania and Burundi.

Torrential rain and floods have destroyed homes, roads, bridges and other infrastructure across the region. The death toll in Kenya exceeds that from floods triggered by the El Nino weather phenomenon late last year.

In the central Kenyan town of Mai Mahiu, where at least 48 died in flash floods on Monday, two bodies were recovered from the debris on Wednesday, Kenya Red Cross South Rift Regional Manager Felix Maiyo said.

Military personnel accompanied by sniffer dogs had joined the search, Maiyo said. Earlier on Wednesday, government spokesperson Isaac Mwaura said the total death toll had risen by 10 to 179.

Last year’s rains followed the worst drought in large parts of East Africa in decades.

In Kitengela, 33 km (20 miles) from Nairobi, Kenya Red Cross workers were helping to rescue residents whose homes were marooned by flood waters.

They were also trying to rescue tourists trapped at camps in Narok, 215 km from Nairobi, the Kenya Red Cross said on social media platform X.

Kenya’s national highways authority said it had closed a section of a highway leading to the city and at least three other roads across the country due to flooding and debris.

Residents wade through flood waters after a seasonal river burst its banks following heavy rainfall in Kitengela municipality of Kajiado County, near Nairobi, Kenya May 1, 2024. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

The disaster prompted Pope Francis to speak out in sympathy with Kenyans during a general audience on Wednesday at the Vatican.

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“I … wish to express to the people of Kenya my spiritual closeness at this time as severe flooding has tragically taken the lives of many of our brothers and sisters, injured others and caused widespread destruction,” he said.

The White House on Wednesday extended condolences to victims’ families and said the United States is contributing to response efforts through the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“We continue to offer our continued and resolute support to all who have been impacted and are closely monitoring the situation,” White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at a briefing.

By The African Mirror