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Two die, scores trapped after building collapses

By | May 2nd 2012

By Robert Wanyonyi

Several people are feared trapped under the rubble of a three-storey building that collapsed while under construction.

Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) officials co-ordinating rescue efforts retrieved one body from the rubble while another person died in hospital.

"We are getting conflicting information over exactly how many people are buried underneath the building. While the proprietor says three people are missing, construction workers are telling us 10 people are missing," said a KRCS official, who requested anonymity.

The building, owned by Sharrif’s and Sons, caved in on Monday evening as the workers prepared to close for the day.

"I survived by God’s miracle. I was just ascending the stairs when I noticed that the building was crumbling. I immediately dived to the left side near an entrance and that’s how I survived!" said a shaken proprietor, Mr Naz Sharrif.

Poor workmanship

He wondered how the building that has been under construction for the past one year collapsed despite strict supervision by engineers.

The building was meant to be a five-star hotel.

But Upper Western Regional Commissioner Rashid Mohammed blamed poor workmanship for the tragedy and said the Government will launch investigation to establish the quality of work and if those who were undertaking construction were qualified.

"We want to establish whether they were licensed and if the quality of work done meets the laid-down regulations. Otherwise, the Government is going to take stern action against those found to have caused this tragedy," said Mr Mohammed.

Five people who sustained serious injuries were rushed to Bungoma District Hospital.

Reports indicate that one person succumbed to the injuries.

Local residents have blamed the Bungoma Municipal Council engineer and town planner for the tragedy and accused them of engaging in underhand deals to allow sub-standard work on several buildings.

"When you look at this building, it’s a clear case of poor workmanship. There are areas whereby, instead of the engineers using Y25 wires, they were using those of Y12. Even the mixing ratio for the cement wasn’t correct causing the accident," claimed Mr Andrew Maniafu, an engineer.

They asked the Government to take stern action against all those responsible for the tragedy.

In 2011, at least two construction workers died after a building collapsed and buried them alive in Nairobi’s Pipeline estate in Embakasi.

The house was just two months old and the owner was rushing the process to enable him accommodate tenants by October, locals claimed.

Critics pointed fingers at the City Council Planning Department and the Architectural Association for turning a blind eye to such constructions leading to such a disaster.

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