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Couple among the dead in collapsed building as death toll rises to three

By Harold Odhiambo | September 13th 2021

A paramedic administers first aid to a survivor who sustained head injuries after a building collapsed in Mamboleo, Kisumu on September 13, 2021. [Harold Odhiambo, Standard]

A couple is among three people confirmed dead in the Kisumu building tragedy that occurred on Monday, September 13. 

The couple, according to sources at the site, had brought food to workers a few minutes before the tragedy struck - burying them in the rubble.

The three bodies were found at the same spot with rescuers pulling out two women. The third body was retrieved from the rubble at around 5:40 pm even as search, and rescue efforts continued.

Allan Ochieng’, a casual labourer who escape death narrowly said that the couple was serving them lunch when the building came down. "The man had escorted his wife and has carried some of the food they wanted to serve us," said Ochieng’.

It was still unclear where the deceased lived, but workers at the site said that they had been bringing them food at the site for some time now

Rescuers at the site said they could hear voices of the deceased as they cut through the rubble in an attempt to save them. However, the voices went quiet after several hours, with rescuers only managing to find the body of the three smashed by the building.

A huge crowd gathered at the site as the search and rescue efforts continued.

Authorities were yet to establish the total number of missing persons, but there were fears others were still trapped in the building.

In an incident that is set to reignite debates on the safety of buildings, authorities were still scratching their heads as they competed against time to save lives trapped at the building.

Moments after the buildings collapsed, residents pulled a construction worker from the collapsed building.  A mother and child were also pulled from the rubbles and had sustained serious injuries with paramedics managing to remove steel rode from the child's arm.

Another survivor was ushered into a waiting ambulance with head injuries as medics administered first aid to him.

A few metres from where the building collapsed, several construction workers who escaped death by a whisker, were still in shock. They were working on the side of the building that remained with large cracks after the collapse while seven others who sustained injuries were rushed to hospital.

Joseph Okeyo, a worker who survived the ordeal told The Standard that the incident happened in a flash. "We did not anticipate what has happened. We just heard a cracking sound and then the building collapsed," he said.

According to the worker, most of them had already left the building and were taking lunch outside before the unfortunate incident.

About 60 workers

He said that a woman who had come to serve them lunch are among those who did not make it out of the building before the collapse.

"We were taking lunch on site and I had just left her serving my colleagues before the incident happened," he said.

Jared Odhiambo, another worker who also escaped death by a whisker claimed that they were about 60 workers at the site but most of them had taken a lunch break.

By 2pm, an excavator was yet to arrive at the scene as firefighters and other rescue workers struggle to cut through the rubbles.

The collapse comes barely a year after another three-storey building collapsed in the same area and left several people with injuries.

Area MCA Roy Samo was among those helping rescue trapped workers. "It is unfortunate what has happened but we are hoping we will be able to retrieve them alive," he said.

The incident comes as surveyors raise alarm over substandard houses being constructed in the city. National Construction Authority said that the collapsed building had been inspected twice and had failed safety tests.

Amos Munyao, Nyanza regional coordinator said that they stopped works at the site in May this year but the owner of the building went behind their backs and continued with construction.

"We stopped construction at the site due to safety concerns. The owner went behind our backs and started construction again," said Munyao.

According to the authority, the building did not have approvals. By evening, the owner of the building was yet to be traced by authorities even as rescue operations continued.

Meanwhile, a dangerously leaning five-storey residential building in Kinoo, Kiambu County, was on September 6 brought down following orders from the county government and the National Construction Authority (NCA).

The building was safely demolished under the supervision of engineers from the authority and officers from the county government.

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