Flash floods wreak havoc in Kenya, leaving 42 dead and counting

A devastating flood triggered by a dam burst in central Kenya’s Mai Mahiu area has claimed the lives of at least 42 people, with authorities warning that the death toll could rise further. The deluge, which occurred early Monday, has left a trail of destruction, as revealed by images shared by Kenyan media, the Kenya Red Cross, and highway authorities. Among the grim scenes are broken trees and a car submerged amidst logs and mud, as reported by Reuters.

Flash floods wreak havoc in Kenya, leaving 42 dead and counting

Responding to the crisis, the Kenya Red Cross swiftly transported multiple individuals to health facilities in Mai Mahiu following flash flooding earlier on Monday. The latest casualties add to a mounting toll of over 140 fatalities attributed to heavy rains and flooding since the previous month. Government data indicates that apart from the Mai Mahiu tragedy, 103 individuals have lost their lives, with over 185,000 others displaced as of Monday.

Tragically, the waters claimed more lives beyond the immediate area, as the Kenya Red Cross reported the recovery of two bodies following a boat capsizing incident late Sunday in the Tana River, situated in eastern Kenya’s Garissa County. Remarkably, 23 individuals were rescued from the same event, underscoring the perilous conditions wrought by the flooding.

The devastation extends beyond Kenya’s borders, with neighboring East African countries, including Tanzania and Burundi, also grappling with intense downpours that have resulted in numerous fatalities and the displacement of hundreds of thousands. Infrastructure has suffered widespread damage, with roads and bridges bearing the brunt of the floods’ force.

In Nairobi, the capital city, flooding inundated a road underpass at the international airport, although flight operations remained unaffected, according to the Kenya Airports Authority. Meanwhile, concerns loom over the capacity of hydroelectric dams, raising fears of potential downstream overflow, as cautioned by a government spokesperson.

This calamity comes amidst a backdrop of record floods experienced across East Africa during the previous rainy season in late 2023. Scientists attribute the increasing frequency and severity of such extreme weather events to climate change, emphasizing the urgent need for concerted global action to address its underlying causes.

In response to the crisis, Kenya’s education ministry has opted to postpone the commencement of the new school term by one week. Citing severe damage inflicted by the rains on school infrastructure, the ministry prioritizes the safety of students and staff, deeming it imprudent to risk their lives amidst the ongoing disaster.