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Survivors recount how Makongeni building collapsed

Harrison Odongo, a commerce student at the Technical University of Kenya, was watching a movie when he heard noises before the ceiling above his single room in an apartment near Makongeni Police Station collapsed in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

The 23-year-old was with his roommate who was fast asleep when the building collapsed and the roof caved in completely covering his colleague.

“It was around 3am and I was still awake seated in bed while watching a movie, I heard a loud bang and the next thing it became dark and I could not move,” Odongo told Nairobi News after undergoing medical checkup at Kenyatta National Hospital.

He was evacuated at around 11 am when he moved his hand to pick his phone that was ringing but instead got hold of a whistle.

“I had kept a Gor Mahia whistle near my phone and so when I was getting the phone I saw the whistle and thought of blowing it to alert people we were trapped inside,” he added.

Odongo was evacuated first as other volunteers moved in to try and rescue his friend who was fully covered by the ceiling.

He was lucky to have escaped without injuries as an examination by doctors at the hospital gave him a clean bill of health.

IN SHOCK

“I am still in shock and concerned that my roommate who was left in the rubble after I was rescued has not been evacuated,” he said.

Odongo had planned to move to a nearby flat this Friday because he had noticed the slab of the fourth floor that was under construction was not stable enough.

“I had told the caretaker to prepare my house deposit because I was unhappy with the way the construction of the top floor was being done,” he said.

He also noted that the building’s ground floor was already showing signs of being unstable yet the owner insisted on adding another floor.

His roommate who is a student at Kenyatta University, but was on attachment while being housed by Odongo had not been evacuated by the time of publishing.

The storey building housed several students and was composed of mostly single rooms that had been rented for Sh5, 000 a month.

Another resident, who sustained injuries on his right leg but was treated and discharged, Kennedy Rubia, said he was with his elder sister when they heard noises outside.

CRACKS ON WALL

“I told my sister to open the door and check what was happening but just as she was reaching for the door, our house caved in,” he said.

Rubia was evacuated by aid workers but could not trace his 29-year-old sister in the rubble.

He recalled how a neighbor noticed some cracks on his wall a few days ago and complained to the caretaker.

The caretaker who was only identified as Mungai could not be reached on phone and is said to have disappeared after the incident.

A female victim was brought to the hospital but after medical officers assessed her while still in the ambulance she was pronounced dead.

By the time of publishing, Kenyatta National Hospital had received nine patients and admitted one for further tests and treatment.

All patients were said to be in a stable condition with soft tissue injuries and cuts. Six had already been discharged by early afternoon while the other three were still undergoing treatment.