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A couple had died in collapsed Huruma house prior to Sunday’s incident

By Cynthia Awuor | Jan 7th 2015 | 2 min read
Rescue team members use sniffer dogs to look for survivors in the ongoing operation at the collapsed seven-storey
residential building at Huruma in Nairobi yesterday. Eight people are still missing. [PHOTO: KNA]

NAIROBI: Five months ago, a man and his wife died when a wall of the ill-fated Huruma building collapsed.

The wall, which collapsed in August last year, was repaired soon after and new tenants moved in, The Standard has established.

According to witnesses and neighbours, one side of the building collapsed five months ago while construction of the third floor was going on, killing the man and his wife. The building has single rooms, each of which attracts a monthly rent of Sh3,500, while the double rooms go for Sh7,500.

One lucky tenant, Irene Mutheu, said she never expected to receive the news on Sunday about the building she was renting, when her phone rang. "I did not expect such news. I had left the house to go house-hunting. I wanted to move out because the cracks that were visible on the building were scary," narrates Mutheu.

Though Mutheu is lucky to have escaped from the tragedy, she lost all her belongings in the building. "I only have the dress that I am putting on right now. My children cannot report to school because they don't have their uniforms or stationery. We have lost everything," she said. Another tenant, Jane Wanja, said most tenants wanted to evacuate but the caretaker refused to refund their deposit.

So far, three people have been confirmed dead while 40 others have been rescued and hospitalised.

 Incident site commander Pius Mwachi said the rescue operation was taking more time because of the nature of the techniques applied so as not to injure those still trapped in the building.

"We are trying to balance between the safety of the trapped victims and that of the response team. We have no communication with those still missing and can only hope they are still alive," said Mwachi.

The Kenya Red Cross Society support centre confirmed eight people are still missing and urged those with missing people to file reports.

President Uhuru Kenyatta in a statement to the Press has directed the Ministry of Lands and Housing in collaboration with Nairobi City County to conduct a comprehensive audit of all buildings in Nairobi; especially in Eastlands.

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