Deaths as a result of floods hit 70 as President directs KDF to help

Residents struggle with floods following a downpour at Bamburi in Mombasa County on Friday, November 17, 2023. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

More deaths are being reported in the country as a result of floods even as President William Ruto yesterday directed the Kenya Defence Forces to airlift relief food, medicines, and other basic needs to residents affected by floods.

The President expressed concern that 70 lives have so far been lost, while 36,160 households have been displaced by the rains.

This week, three members of a welfare group died after they were swept away by the flooded Muuoni River.

They were among eight members who were heading home at Mutyambua location, Mbitini, Upper Makueni sub-county.

The three were found dead on Friday many kilometres downstream. The body of the first victim, a woman identified as Agnes Munyao,63, was found at Ndivuni, Nthunguni in Nguu/Masumba ward, 40 kilometres from the section they were crossing.

Two other bodies were recovered 70 kilometres away down river Muuoni a few metres from Wote-Makindu road.

An eyewitness, Mr Justus Muli, who found the first body, said he was headed to his shamba on Friday morning when he bumped into the damaged body.

The body had been thrown on top of a huge stone at the river bank.

“I was going on with my routine farm chores when I bumped into a body that had been thrown by the raging water offshores. I heard that some victims had been swept while crossing the river upstream and so I alerted the area chief who called authorities and the body was retrieved,” said Mr Muli.

At least nine people, including a two-year-old infant, have died in Tharaka Nithi County since the onset of the rains.

Tharaka Nithi County Police Commander Zaccheus Ng’eno confirmed that the victims were swept away by swollen rivers and drowned.

Ng’eno said three deaths were reported in Tharaka North, two in Tharaka South, one in Igambang’ombe, two in Muthambi, and one in Maara areas.

The police officer cautioned residents against attempting to cross swollen and fast-moving rivers.

“It is unfortunate and we feel sorry for the families who lost their loved ones. The ages range from two years to 62. We also have two bodies that are yet to be identified, suspected to have been swept away by the waters,” he said.

However, the police chief also said the two bodies were suspected to be from another county and were only swept there by river Ura, whose source is Nyambene Hills in Meru, and flows through Meru National Park into Tharaka Nithi.

“The bodies are yet to be identified and once they are identified the families will pick the bodies,” he said.

In Kitui, a 12-year-old boy died on Wednesday night after their house collapsed following a heavy downpour in Musuani village, Kitui.

The boy’s father Josphat Mwangangi, said revealed that his last-born son was sleeping with three other children who escaped with minor injuries.

The deceased had sat the Kenya Primary School Education Assessment (KPSEA) and was waiting to join Junior Secondary School.

“I heard the children screaming from their bedroom and I rushed there. I managed to rescue the three but my last born was still trapped in the rubble, I called for help from neighbours,” Mwangangi said.

He recounted that when they finally pulled the boy from the rubble he was bleeding from the nose and ears and was complaining of sharp chest and stomach pains.

Efforts to rush the boy to hospital were hampered by the heavy rains. He died shortly after.

“We are devastated. He was a sociable, bright boy who had all the future ahead of him,” mourned Mirriam Peter, the victim’s aunt.

The area assistant chief Robert Munyoki asked the residents to vacate semi-permanent structures and move to higher grounds. He also cautioned residents against crossing swollen rivers.

A family in Homa Bay is grieving after their 11-year-old son was killed by lightning in an incident that also left his brother injured.

The boy. identified as Fidel Owino, was struck by lightning in their home at Nyadenda village, Basa South Location in Rachuonyo East Sub County during a heavy downpour.

Basa South Location Chief Tom Ondiro said Owino sustained serious which culminated in his instant death.

"The boy was sheltering in their house before he was struck by lightning. He died on the spot due to the incident," Ondiro said.

In Embu, two people escaped death after their vehicle stalled at River Mashamba in Makima ward, Mbeere South.

Joseph Nzuki and Amos Njue abandoned the vehicle, Toyota Probox, to avoid being swept away by the swollen river.

Saturday, President Ruto said Sh2.4 billion has been made available to help Kenyans who have been affected by the rains, especially in the provision of food.

Speaking at State House, Nairobi, after meeting multi-agency emergency response teams, the head of state observed that, "The ongoing rains have resulted in an emergency situation in the country. Trucks have been stuck with food, medicines, and fuel. Roads have been destroyed especially in northern Kenya."

He said a Cabinet meeting will be held next Monday to deliberate on recommendations made so as to prepare the country to deal with the effects of the current rains.

 [Story by Stephen Nzioka, Philip Muasya, Phares Mutembei, James Omoro and Muriithi Mugo]