Africa

Flash Floods Kill at Least 45 in Kenya


Flash floods and a landslide sent a deluge of muddy water over a Kenyan village early Monday, killing at least 45 people, as torrential rains continued to pound East Africa.

The disaster in Kenya was the deadliest in the country in the two weeks since the devastating inundations began, said Emmanuel Talam, a press secretary in President William Ruto’s office.

The cause of the landslide was not immediately clear. Earlier information from a government official had cited a collapsed dam, though later reports from aid workers and local news media suggested that an obstructed tunnel had given way, allowing a torrent of muddy water to careen over the village around 3 a.m. local time.

The floods swept off people, houses and cars in the Kamuchiri area of the Rift Valley region in southern Kenya, Kithure Kindiki, cabinet secretary of the Kenyan Interior Ministry, said in a statement.

Mr. Kindiki added that bodies had been found along the path of the flash floods and the landslide, and that search and rescue operations were continuing on Monday.

The Interior Ministry has also ordered an inspection of all public and private water reservoirs within 24 hours.

Heavy rains have been pounding parts of East Africa for weeks, and the resultant flooding has killed hundreds of people in several nations in recent days and displaced tens of thousands more.

In Tanzania, at least 155 people have been killed and 236 others injured, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said last week. In Kenya, more than 100 people have died because of the floods, the government said on Monday, and over 28,000 have been displaced.

The inundations have also caused the deaths of hundreds of farm animals, and have damaged or destroyed thousands of acres of farmland in a region already dealing with the severe effects of climate change and some poor infrastructure.

United Nations experts have attributed the heavier-than-usual rains to a combination of two natural climate cycles: El Niño, which increases the likelihood of wet conditions in certain parts of the world, and a similar pattern called the Indian Ocean Dipole.

Stronger rainstorms are a consequence of human-caused global warming; as the atmosphere warms, it can hold more moisture, which can fall as rain under the right conditions.

Estimating how much any particular storm might have been intensified by climate change requires detailed scientific analysis. Researchers have found that the amount of rain that fell during severe storms and floods in East Africa last fall was about double what it would have been in a world without human-induced warming.

Munir Ahmed, a spokesman for the Kenyan Red Cross, said that the current deluge came as people were still trying to recover from last year’s flooding.

“Families are not able to cope,” he said, describing the situation as “persistent devastation.”

Pictures of the flooding this month have shown thick rivers of brown-orange mud streaming across cities, submerging whole streets.

The Kenyan Interior Ministry said in a statement that it was “deeply concerned by the loss of life and destruction” caused by the flooding.

On Monday, the Education Ministry postponed the reopening of the country’s schools, pushing back the opening of the next term to May 6. In a statement, the ministry said that the “devastating effects of the rains were so severe that it will be imprudent to risk the lives of learners and staff.”

Heavy rain continues to pummel Kenya and the surrounding region.

On Sunday, a boat carrying about 43 people capsized in Tana River County, in southeastern Kenya. A total of 23 people were rescued while two bodies have already been retrieved, the Interior Ministry said Monday.

Raymond Zhong contributed reporting from London.



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