Scores feared trapped as building collapses in Kapsabet

Rescue operations ongoing at Kapsabet town where a 4 storey building under construction collapsed trapping workers on site

Tens of people are feared trapped after a building under construction collapsed in Kapsabet town, Nandi County, yesterday.

Unconfirmed reports indicated that scores of people, mostly casual laborers, could have been buried under the debris, even as rescue workers and residents struggled to pull out survivors using their bare hands.

The building, located in the town centre next to Total petrol station, was a private hospital under construction.

Witnesses and survivors watched in horror as the building came tumbling under a cloud of dust and breaking concrete, burying those on the lower floors, and leaving those on the fourth floor and nearby buildings scampering for cover.

Workers on the upper floor were the first to be rescued by residents and rescue teams that arrived about fifteen minutes after the accident.

“I was on the fourth floor with other masons when we heard the voice of someone saying ‘save yourself, the building is sinking’. I jumped just a few metres before the building fully sunk,” narrated Kennedy Otieno. 

Otieno said he was not supposed to be working that day and that he was saved by the voice of a man he does not recognise who called out to say the building was sinking.

“I can’t think straight. My friends are calling out for help from inside the rubble. I cannot just sit on this hospital bed,” he cried.

By 5pm, about 40 people had been rescued, but there were fears that more could be under the rubble.

The Kenya Red Cross, county government, police and residents struggled to reach those trapped inside the building.

Ambulances and bulldozers from Nandi County and neighboring counties assisted in the rescue operation that could take several days.

It is not clear what caused the accident, but according to residents the entire building sank, indicating that the foundation may have been weak.

Heavy rains that have been pounding the area may have also contributed to the accident.

The building had been abandoned since last year, and construction only resumed in the past few weeks, according to another witness.

“The building was being constructed in a hurry as workers were here day and night. We suspect something was not right in the construction,” said a witness.

Nandi Governor Stephen Sang arrived at the scene late in the evening and promised that police and county authorities will get to the bottom of the accident.

Varying degrees

Dr Shadrack Kemei, the Kapsabet County Referral Hospital Superintendent, confirmed that 39 workers had already been received by the hospital for treatment, with varying degrees of injuries.

Patrick Wambani, Nandi County Police Commander said that it was not possible to ascertain the number of people in the building when it collapsed.