By Cyrus Ombati and Ally Jamah
Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere has allayed fears that grenade or bomb attacks were the cause of a blast that went off from inside the Sasa Boutique located within Assanand’s House on Nairobi's Moi Avenue.
Police say 27 people were injured in the blast, four of them critically and were undergoing treatment in various hospitals. Most of the victims, including the four were admitted at the Kenyatta National Hospital.
Iteere accompanied by top explosive experts arrived at the scene moments after the loud explosion followed by a fireball and immediately launched investigations into what caused the blast and fierce fire.
Shortly afterwards, Internal Security Assistant minister Orwa Ojode and MP Jamleck Kamau dashed to the scene and appealed for calm as crowds surged to catch a glimpse of what had happened.
There was confusion as the Police Commissioner said initial investigations pointed at an electric fault followed by a loud explosion and fierce flames.
Iteere ruled out possibility of a grenade and bomb attacks saying the injuries were not consistent with improvised explosive devices.
“The blast could be as a result of an electric fault but not a grenade or bomb blast. Four people are critically injured and are in high dependency unit,” Iteere told journalists later at Kenyatta National Hospital.
Police immediately ordered the closure of Moi Avenue to traffic in the wake of the blast and sealed-off the scene of the explosion allowing only emergency vehicles.
Sections of Tubmun Road and River Road were also closed to traffic and rescue operation and emergency services were called into action.
Members of the public helped to push away personal vehicles parked along the street as a huge ball of fire erupted at the apparel shop.
At least 30 people were undergoing treatment at the Kenyatta National Hospital for various injuries soft tissue injuries sustained in the accident.
Doctors at Kenyatta hospital said most of the victims were due to be discharged from hospital later in the evening.
Some of the victims suffered severe burns after the boutique caught fire and were rushed to hospital writhing in pain.
Victims bathed in blood from the injuries were helped into waiting police vehicles and ambulances as others who could barely walk were wheeled away for treatment.
Witnesses said he building immediately exploded into fire ball causing panic and a stampede among customers who were at the shop.
Several casualties were rushed to hospital with critical injuries by good samaritans as police attempted to seal-off the area. But uncunny looters too had their day as they took advantage of the confusion and carted away valuables from the shops.
The blast occurred at the building next to Mt Kenya University throwing business and studies into disarray.