Pres Ruto convenes cabinet meeting over deadly floods

Clothes are seen covered in mud at a house that was flooded in an area heavily affected by torrential rains and flash floods in Mai Mahiu, on April 29, 2024. [AFP]

Kenyan President William Ruto convened a special cabinet meeting on Tuesday to discuss measures to tackle deadly floods that have killed nearly 170 people and displaced 185,000 others since March, his office said.

Heavier than usual monsoon rains, compounded by the El Nino weather pattern, have devastated the East African country, turning roads into rivers, engulfing villages and threatening to unleash even more damage in the weeks to come.

In the worst single incident that killed nearly 50 villagers, a makeshift dam burst its banks in the Rift Valley before dawn on Monday, sending torrents of water and mud gushing down a hill and swallowing everything in its path.

The incident is the deadliest episode in the country since the start of the rainy season.

So far, 169 people have died in flood-related disasters, according to government data.

The cabinet will "discuss additional measures" to address the crisis, Ruto said on Monday on the sidelines of a summit of African leaders and the World Bank in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

"My government is going to... make sure that citizens who are victims of climate change, who today are suffering floods, they are suffering mudslides, are looked after," he said.

The Rift Valley deluge cut off a road, uprooted trees, washed away homes and sent vehicles flying, devastating the village of Kamuchiri in Nakuru county.

Forty-seven people were killed, Nakuru County health minister Jacqueline Osoro told AFP on Tuesday.

"This morning we lost one person who was in the HDU (high dependency unit), so we've moved at 47 deaths," she said, fearing the toll could increase as 76 people were reported missing.

Nakuru governor Susan Kihika said 110 people were being treated in hospital.

Opposition leaders and lobby groups have accused the government of being unprepared and slow to react despite meteorological warnings, demanding that it declare the floods a national disaster.

The weather has also wreaked havoc in neighbouring Tanzania, where at least 155 people have been killed in flooding and landslides.

In Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, flooding claimed the lives of four people on Monday, according to the Fire and Disaster Risk Management Commission.

A woman and her baby died in the Rwandan capital Kigali on Sunday when heavy rainfall caused their house to collapse, police said.

In neighbouring Burundi, one of the world's poorest countries, about 96,000 people have been displaced by months of relentless rains, according to the United Nations and the government.

Uganda has also suffered heavy storms that have caused riverbanks to burst, with two deaths confirmed and several hundred villagers displaced.