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World & Nation

10 dead, 134 injured as 6-story building collapses in heavy rain in Kenyan capital

A six-story residential building in a low income area of the Kenyan capital collapsed Friday night under heavy rain and flooding, killing 10 people and injuring 134 others, Kenyan officials said.

Live TV footage showed the National Youth Service and firefighters removing stones by hand and a crowd cheering when a child was removed from the rubble.

Hours-long traffic jams caused by flooded roads delayed rescue teams trying to reach the scene, said Japheth Koome, Nairobi’s police chief, who confirmed the death toll. Kenya is in the midst of its April-May rainy season.

Jacob Kiruma, said he once lived in the building adjacent to the one that collapsed and the two structures are owned by the same person. The buildings were constructed too close to a river, he said.

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Kiruma said he moved out because he believed that the collapsed building was constructed “shoddily.” Kiruma said the collapsed building was built in less than five months and contained 126 single rooms which were quickly occupied at a rent equivalent to $35 a month.

Area legislator Stephen Kariuki said this was the second building to collapse in a year. He blamed the county government for failing to follow through with demolitions of buildings that were identified as unfit for human habitation. Kariuki said he has given the county government 14 days to demolish those buildings and if it did not he said he would lead area youths to demolish the buildings.

Taking advantage of a high demand for housing in Nairobi, some property developers bypass building regulations to cut costs and maximize profits.

President Uhuru Kenyatta last year ordered an audit of all the country’s buildings to see if they are up to code after eight buildings collapsed, killing at least 15 people.

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The report from the audit by the National Construction Authority found that 58 percent of buildings in the capital are unfit for habitation. The majority of Nairobi’s estimated 4 million people live in low income areas or slums.

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