NAIROBI, KENYA Floods: Dozens killed after weeks of heavy rains break dam near Mai Mahiu


A screengrab from a video shows an overturned car and downed trees caused by flash floods in Mai Mahiu, Kenya on April 29.

Nairobi, Kenya

At least 35 people have been killed and dozens are missing after a dam burst in southern Kenya, wiping out homes and vehicles as the country grapples with weeks of heavy rains and devastating flash floods.

Rescue teams are trying to dig through mud and debris to find survivors near Mai Mahiu in Kenya's Nakuru County, Governor Susan Kihika told CNN, warning that the death toll could rise significantly.

The incident comes as floods have engulfed large parts of Kenya, killing at least 103 people and forcing thousands of residents from their homes since March, government spokesman Isaac Maikwa Mwara said on Monday.

In Mai Mahiu, Kihika said, a serious situation is unfolding as the flood washes away people and houses.

“We are trying to handle the situation but it is a bit overwhelming but we are doing our best, especially to reach out to those who have been taken because we believe some are still alive,” Kihika said.

Access to Mai Mahiu, about 20 miles north of the capital Nairobi, was difficult because part of the road had been cut off by recent heavy rains, Kihika said. Crews are clearing debris as they try to reach survivors and retrieve bodies, he added.

On Monday, the Kenya Red Cross Society said several people had been taken to a health facility in Mai Mahiu after flash floods hit Kamuchiri village.

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“The floodwaters are believed to have originated from a nearby river that breached its banks,” the group said.

Kenya has been experiencing heavy rains since mid-March, but the rains have intensified in the past week, leading to massive flooding.

“Kenya is facing a worsening flood crisis due to the combined effects of El Niño and the ongoing March-May 2024 long rains,” IFRC Secretary General and CEO Jagan Chapagain said. said in a post on X, represents a climate system that forms in the Pacific Ocean along the equator and affects weather around the world. “Since November 2023, El Nino has caused catastrophic flooding and river overflows, causing more than a hundred deaths and widespread damage.”

Andre Kasuku/AP

A man is seen in floodwaters near a submerged church complex after the Tana River burst its banks following heavy rains in Mororo, Kenya on Sunday, April 28.

The Horn of Africa, a region of East Africa that includes Kenya, is one of the world's most climate-vulnerable regions – exposed to frequent and severe extreme weather events.

As the whole world is warming up, rain is expected in the region as a whole Frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall The incidence is expected to increase as the warmer atmosphere holds more moisture.

The Deadly rain across the Horn of Africa By the end of last year, it had killed at least 300 people, twice as severe as they would have been without climate change, according to a December report. Analysis From scientists at the World Weather Attribution (WWA) Initiative.

That rain followed years of devastating drought, the worst in at least four decades, which has affected parts of Kenya, killing livestock and crops, and causing widespread hunger and water insecurity. April WWA, heating the planet with fossil fuels has made this drought 100 times more likely. Analysis detected.

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About 131,450 people have been affected by floods that have swept away half of Kenya.

Images and videos from badly affected Nairobi show people huddled on rooftops or saving what they can from homes destroyed by flash floods.

Other videos show the Thana River overflowing and much of the surrounding area under water. Roads, buildings and vehicles were submerged.

All primary and secondary schools will postpone the start of the new school term by one week until May 6, the Ministry of Education announced on Monday.

On Sunday, the Kenya Red Cross said 23 people had been rescued and others were missing after a boat capsized in Kona Bunda while en route to Mororo in Tana River County.

As of Friday, the group said it had rescued more than 300 people since the rains began in March.

The countries of Tanzania and Burundi have also been affected by the heavy rains in East Africa. Tanzanian Prime Minister Kasim Majaliwa said on Thursday At least 155 people have been killed Due to floods in the country.

CNN's Laura Paddison contributed to this report.

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