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VAS

Two killed, seven injured as gas explosion hits Nyeri village

BUSIA
By | January 6th 2012

By JOB WERU and WAMBUI NDUNG’U

A huge explosion rocked Kiunyu village in Giakanja, Nyeri Thursday leaving massive destruction in its wake.

Two people were killed and seven others seriously injured.

It took frantic efforts from rescuers from the Kenya Red Cross and police to pull the injured from the filling depot situated right in the middle of a residential area.

After the initial loud blasts, fireballs ricocheted from the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) depot.

Panic-gripped villagers ran away from the scene which was rocked by one explosion after the other.

When the first explosion was heard at around 9.00 am, the locals were not able to scale the 10 ft perimeter wall that surround the depot.

The scene of the massive fire was cordoned off by police for hours as the explosions, heard several kilometres away, continued to punctuate the serene surroundings.

Intense heat

By evening, the fire was yet to be extinguished as fire fighters and other emergency teams were kept at bay by the intense heat.

According to witnesses, the explosion occurred when a tanker ferrying LPG hit an electricity pole in the compound as it reversed.

"We heard an explosion and then saw flames of fire atop the tall trees. The fire started burning everything within the estimated four acre land and flared into neighbouring homes," said a neighbour who identified himself as James Maina.

Mr Maina, who showed The Standard a partly burnt mobile phone that reportedly belonged to one of the seven people who were in the compound when the explosion occurred, said the survivors were spotted running with their clothes on fire.

"I saw four people run towards the gate when I came to see what was happening. I could see the flames from my home which is about 400 metres away," said Maina.

Nyeri PGH Medical Superintendent Kimani Mwago said two of the victims who had severe burns were admitted at the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit before they were airlifted to Kenyatta National Hospital for specialised treatment.

"We have referred them to KNH since they require specialised treatment," said Dr Mwago, adding that two others were responding well to treatment.

Golden flame

Even after the initial explosion, several blasts could be heard, as members of the public watched from a distance.

A huge golden flame could also be spotted from a distance, since police and Kenya Red Cross Society officials sealed off the scene to avert more fatalities.

Special Programmes Minister Esther Murugi, Central PC Kiplimo Rugut, and PPO John Mbijjiwe were among the first people at the scene.

Tetu DC Herman Sharbi, who was also at the scene, said it was suspected the fire was caused by an electric fault after the tanker hit electricity pole.

"We suspect there are several underground tanks which are yet to burn up, and we urge members of the public to keep off the scene," said Sharbi.

Among the property reduced to ashes were the tanker, which was still burning at the time of going to press, two lorries and other plant equipment and household goods.

Controlling mob

There was a near-stampede after the tank, which is fitted on the lorry, caught fire producing a hissing sound.

Police had a hard time controlling a mob that milled near the scene.

And at the compound, which reportedly belongs to a retired athlete and gold medallist, Mr Wambugu Gitonga, an artificial forest looked like what Christians could describe as a scene in hell.

By the time of going to Press, the scene was still a huge inferno, and Charles Karani, the acting Nyeri Chief Fire Officer said it would take about three hours.

"The fire is beyond control even with fire fighting equipment, we would be risking our lives by getting near the fire," he said.

"The area is inaccessible, we have information there are more underground tanks with liquid gas, and we fear they might explode," said Karani.

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