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CID sleuths grill JKIA night shift workers for hours

By By Moses Michira | August 8th 2013

By Moses Michira

Nairobi, Kenya: Airport employees who were working when fire broke out were detained for questioning as investigations narrowed to why the inferno spread faster than it could be contained.

Detectives from CID were holed up in a closed-door probe with workers stationed where the fire started, believed to be the Immigration Desk in the international arrivals area.

By late evening yesterday, about a dozen employees were still being questioned by the sleuths, who included CID Director Ndegwa Muhoro. He declined to divulge the likely leads his officers were following as the cause of the dawn blaze.

“I do not want to speculate but we are leaving our men to do their investigation,” said Mr Muhoro. Airport employees who reported to work for the day shift said their colleagues had been questioned from mid-morning soon after President Uhuru Kenyatta left the airport at about 9am.

Detained workers were seated at a table in a restaurant that did not operate yesterday, with two CID officers, as they gave accounts of events before the fire started.

The arrivals’ hall, which houses several businesses, including banks, exchange bureaux and tour operators, was extensively damaged by the huge fire that was contained after more than six hours.

Smoke could still be seen billowing from the international arrivals terminal last evening, with several fire engines and firemen on stand-by. 

Head of security at KAA, Eric Kiraithe, who arrived at JKIA shortly after the fire broke out, described the speed of the blaze as “unbelievable” and like “nothing he had ever seen”. 

“When I got here at about 5am, there was just smoke, then we evacuated everyone,” said Mr Kiraithe.

Less than ten minutes after asking workers to suspend refuelling to avert the possibility of a new fire, he noticed that the fire had engulfed the entire arrivals terminal, with flames rising over the storeyed block.

“I ordered the planes to be moved because the fire was now serious and anything could happen,” he added. 

A large jet, which he did not immediately recognise, took off in the ensuing confusion, raising fears some of its passengers may have been left behind.

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