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Death toll from Solai dam tragedy hits 32 – PHOTOS

At least 32 people have been confirmed dead and hundreds of families displaced after the walls of Patel Dam in Subukia, Nakuru County, broke down on Wednesday night.

Rongai police boss Japheth Kioko on Thursday said 32 bodies had been recovered, with search and rescue operation ongoing.

There are fears of the toll rising further because “many people” are still unaccounted for, according to local leaders.

Residents told the Nation that they heard an “explosion” before water gushed out, sweeping away hundreds of homes in the neighbourhood, including those on the expansive Nyakinyua Farm, which borders the water reservoir.

The 9pm horror rendered over 300 families homeless and about 2,500 residents were affected.

Some of the houses that were destroyed by floodwaters from Patel Dam in Solai Ward, Subukia. PHOTO | JOSEPH OPENDA |
Some of the houses that were destroyed by floodwaters from Patel Dam in Solai Ward, Subukia. PHOTO | JOSEPH OPENDA |

Property estimated to be worth millions of shillings was also destroyed by the raging waters and thick mud.

Tens of people, including children, are feared trapped in the black mud.

Rescue operation by Kenya Red Cross and Nakuru County disaster management teams went into the small hours of Thursday.

By 1am, about 40 people had been rescued from the mud and rushed to local health facilities, including Bahati Sub-County and Nakuru Level Five hospitals.

The rescue mission was called off at 2am due to darkness but resumed on Thursday morning.

The dam water and mud spilt out of the reservoir and submerged homes, extending to a radius of nearly two kilometres.

Floodwaters from Patel Dam in Solai Ward, Subukia, damaged property of unknown value. PHOTO | JOSEPH OPENDA
Floodwaters from Patel Dam in Solai Ward, Subukia, damaged property of unknown value. PHOTO | JOSEPH OPENDA

The mega dam is one of the three water reservoirs owned by a large-scale irrigation farmer, Mr Mansukul Patel, who was not around at the time of the tragedy.

The one that wreaked havoc is situated on the upper end of his expansive farm and initial reports indicate that it “burst” due to high volumes of water.

Its location on the upper side of the farm as locals live in low-lying areas has elicited many questions, with Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui saying they will investigate if Mr Patel was licensed to set up the reservoirs.

The other two dams are intact but with with high volumes of water.