City residents abandon Mradi area for hours over gas leakage fear

A gas cylinder when EPRA officials and Police visited the scene of an explosion in Embakasi, Nairobi on February 05, 2024. [Francis Odee, Standard]

Panic gripped residents of Mradi in Embakasi following a suspected gas leak in the wake of last Friday’s blast that has so far left six people dead and more than 300 injured.

Life returned to normalcy later in the day after security agents conducted investigations following reports that there was an underground tank that was leaking but found none.

Strong smell

Residents recounted waking up to a strong smell of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).

The news spread fast, forcing local authorities to move in and quickly evacuate those near the source of the suspected leakage. Among the affected were learners whose schools were immediately closed.

The place was cordoned off as a multi-agency team spent hours assessing the situation before it was established that there was no leakage.

Collins Lukenya, a teacher at Victory Junior School, told The Standard that panicked parents rushed to the school to take their children, fearing there might be another fire incident.

“At around 10am, parents stormed into the compound and demanded to be given their kids. But we calmed them and asked them to allow us take the learners to the nearby chief’s camp as we waited for confirmation from authorities,” said Lukenya.

Police officers, together with officials from the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority, assessed the place before reassuring locals that there was no cause for alarm after it was established that there was no underground gas leakage.

“We have done a thorough search in all the gas tanks and we can assure you all of them are empty. I can confirm that you are all safe,” said Nairobi Regional Police Commander Admson Bungei while addressing the anxious residents still struggling to come to terms with last week’s explosion.

Bungei assured that authorities were on high alert to safeguard life and property while ensuring that a similar incident will not reoccur.

The police commander promised that detectives will soon release their findings on Friday blast and those found culpable will face the law.

On Friday, a gas truck exploded sending a huge fireball in the sky and flames that killed two and hundreds of others injured. Four more people have since succumbed to their injuries while many are still admitted in various hospitals.

“One lorry of unknown registration number that was loaded with gas exploded, igniting a huge ball of fire that spread widely. A flying gas cylinder hit Oriental godown, burning down the said godown which deals with garments and textiles,” said Government Spokesman Isaac Mwaura in an update soon after the Friday explosion.

The inferno damaged several vehicles, commercial and residential buildings.

And in a statement yesterday, Mwaura reassured that Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital (KUTRH) and Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) are equipped to address the medical needs of the patients.

Mwaura said three more people had succumbed to their injuries, raising the death toll to six from three.

He said KURTH received 27 patients, with eight already discharged and 19 currently under care.

Mwaura said the situation at KNH remains critical yet under control, noting that the referral facility had received 67 patients from the incident, with six in critical condition suffering from severe burns.

“The hospital has successfully discharged 27 patients while 34 others continue to receive care in various wards,” he added.

At Embakasi Social Hall, 761 affected residents received assistance from the multi-agency team that distributed essential supplies such as food and other humanitarian help.

Some 28 families, among them nine adults and 19 children, are taking shelter at the social hall with many having found alternative accommodation, according to acting County Secretary and Head of Public Service Patrick Analo.

“As of this morning, there are only 30 families remaining in the social hall where the county government has been hosting and feeding the victims. Majority of the victims have been reunited with family members and found alternative accommodation,” said Analo.

However, Analo said the whereabouts of 15 people remain unknown but hastened to add that the county and the police are trying to trace them.

Rent aid

The Kenya Red Cross has committed to cover two months ' rent for affected individuals amounting to Sh6,000 per household.

Those who have lost documents and certificates as a result of the tragedy are required to register at the Embakasi Social Hall for the government to facilitate replacements through the National Registration Bureau and relevant other bodies.

[Report by Aloys Michael, Ann Musungu and Ivy Kariuki]

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