A two-storey building under construction has collapsed in Mamboleo, Kisumu county. As at 6pm, three bodies have been retrieved from the collapsed building.
At least seven people have been rescued and taken to hospital. Several others were still trapped under the rubble.
Search and rescue operations are ongoing.
A woman who hawks food at the construction site is among those trapped.
The National Construction Authority (NCA) has told The Standard that the collapsed building was inspected twice and activities at the site stopped in May 2021 over safety concerns. NCA however claims that the owner continued with construction behind their back and did not have approval.
Joseph Okeyo, a survivor, has told The Standard that the incident happened in a flash. "We did not anticipate what happened. We just heard a cracking sound and then the building collapsed," he said.
Okeyo went on, "We were having lunch on site and I had just left her (food vendor) serving my colleagues before the incident happened.”
By 2pm an excavator was yet to arrive at the scene as firefighters and other rescue workers struggled to cut through the rubble.
Moments after the building collapsed, residents pulled a mother and a child who were crying from the building.
A few meters from where the building collapsed, several construction workers who escaped death by a whisker were still in shock. They were working on one side of the building that was left with large cracks following the collapse.
The incident comes as surveyors have raised an alarm over substandard houses being constructed in Nairobi.
A five-storey residential building in Kinoo, Kiambu County, was on September 6 brought down following orders from the county government and the NCA. The building was safely demolished under the supervision of engineers from NCA and officers from the county government.
NCA engineers inspected the site on September 3 and issued a stop order to the developer due to non-compliance. The authority, in a statement, said the building developed cracks and started crumbling due to foundation subsidence.
According to the Institute of Quantity Surveyors of Kenya (IQSK), the developers sought the services of unlicensed persons to cut construction costs.
IQSK urged developers to avoid shortcuts when building houses to avert losses from collapsed or demolished buildings.
“The leaning five-story structure in Kinoo might have been averted if thorough compliance had been observed,” said IQSK president James Munene. He urged professionals to carry out their duties diligently.
Munene said all practitioners and respective authorities know why our buildings are collapsing.
“Equally, we all know what is at stake are human lives and loss of wealth. We need to get our act together,” he said.
According to IQSK Vice President Jenifer Musyimi, the earliest documented case of building collapse in Kenya was in 1990, where a multi-storeyed building in Dagoretti collapsed, killing one and injuring others.
She said since then, over 200 people have lost their lives and thousands injured in similar circumstances.