Eight more admitted in ICU as blast victims speak

The family of Austin Shivanda mourn his passing on February 3, 2024. [Boniface Okendo, Standard] 

Eight victims are battling for their lives in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in different health facilities as more victims continue to come out from the Thursday night fire blast in Mradi area of Embakasi East, Nairobi. 

Data records seen by The Standard on Sunday from the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) officers processing the scene further revealed that bodies of two deceased persons are lying at the Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital morgue. 

At least three people were confirmed dead by authorities, while 280 others were left nursing serious burn injuries. 

The government officials' assessment indicates that over 600 families were affected, with thousands of individuals’ lives disrupted by the inferno. While issuing a press statement yesterday, the officials promised to help the families recover from their losses.

The cause of the fire is, however, yet to be established as authorities race against time to unearth the root cause of the incident that left residents in pain and counting losses. 

DCI officers had been ordered to dig into the incident and unravel the truth of the matter, with Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua giving the investigation agency an ultimatum to issue a report by the end of business Saturday, a directive they failed to deliver. 

Meanwhile, affected families continue to share their horrific experiences even as they struggle to come to terms with the tragedy. 

The Standard on Sunday spoke to one of the families that lost their loved one, who is, however, missing from the DCI list of deceased persons. 

Cleophas Lihanga Lumunda recounted the hurdles he went through to help rescue his father but to no avail.

"There was no emergency response, I struggled for 30 minutes to take him to hospital," he said. "I was the third to reach Mama Lucy (hospital). We went through hard times at Mama Lucy because of a shortage of equipment. They demanded payment first before he was attended to." 

Describing the incident as unique, Red Cross Emergency Response and Preparedness Manager Antony Muchiri said more victims with burn injuries are coming out. 

"We continue to receive more victims with several injuries including burns and from those who hit themselves on objects running for safety," Muchiri said. 

To help the victims recover from the tragedy, Mr Muchiri said the Kenya Red Cross has established a psychosocial support centre at Embakasi Social Hall.

He noted that 21 children who lost contact with their families have been reunited and the organisation is currently dealing with 13 similar cases. He further announced plans by the agency to offer livelihood support to the victims, including two months' rent.  

Government Spokesperson Isaac Mwaura said the Red Cross, through the National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF), will pay rent of Sh6,000 each to the affected families for two months to help them recover their livelihoods.