15 missing as eight-storey building collapses in Embakasi

About 15 people are missing after an eight storey building collapsed in a residential area in Kware Pipeline, Embakasi, rescue services said on Tuesday. The Kenya Red Cross said on its Twitter feed that the building had collapsed in an eastern Nairobi suburb, while Saint John’s Ambulance said 15 people were reported missing.

Police said 121 people have been accounted for after they were evacuated moments before the building collapsed. The incident occurred on Monday night with the owner of the building unknown.

Pictures on Kenya Red Cross’ Twitter feed showed a pile of broken concrete blocks and bent metal. The operations were hampered by lack of heavy excavation machines and poor roads.

“There has been delays because of the state of the roads,” a police officer in charge of the operations said noting that the operations were still ongoing.

Saint John’s Ambulance said three days earlier, the building had shown imminent signs of collapse, including cracks and bending of walls, and most tenants had vacated.

“As at Monday, the structure started to cave in at around 6pm and finally came down at about 10pm,” Communications Manager Fred Majiwa said.

Majiwa said the cause of the collapse has not been established adding that it is likely to be poor workmanship and use of substandard materials. Witnesses said the building had been condemned after a number of cracks opened up on its walls.

Kenya has seen similar tragedies in the past. A total of 49 people died mid-last year when another building collapsed during a heavy, nighttime downpour in a poor neighbourhood.