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Baby Saved, Dozens Die in Collapse

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

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A baby has been found alive and safe amid the ruins of a collapsed multifamily residential building in Nairobi, Kenya, but the number of victims has topped 21 and is expected to rise.

Authorities say the collapse happened Friday (April 29) in a residential area known as Huruma, during heavy rains and flooding, according to various news reports. BBC News reported Tuesday (May 3) that at least 135 people had been rescued and another 93 have been reported as missing.

Kenya Red Cross
Bonny Odhiambo / Kenya Red Cross

The baby was treated by doctors at the Kenyatta National Hospital after spending four days in the building debris.

Rescuers were continuing to dig through the rubble in an attempt to recover possible survivors Tuesday.

The six-story building was said to have been condemned and slated for demolition in 2014; however, its 119 rooms were being rented out. The building's owners have been arrested.

Baby Rescued

A 6-month-old girl was pulled from the debris alive at approximately 4 a.m. local time Tuesday, four days after the collapse. Dealeryn Saisi Wasike was dehydrated, but had no visible injuries, the BBC reported.  

She had reportedly been found wrapped in a blanket in a bucket.

The Kenyan Red Cross tweeted Tuesday that the baby girl had been reunited with her father, Ralson Saisi Wasike, who was located through tracing services. He told reporters he had visited hospitals and mortuaries looking for his child and was overjoyed when he heard of the rescue.

However, Wasike has not been able to locate his missing wife.

Arrests Made

Meanwhile, the owners of the building and three government officials have been arrested, pending murder and/or manslaughter charges stemming from the collapse, according to The Standard Digital.

Those detained were: two brothers, Samuel Karanja and Henry Karanja, said to own the building; the National Construction Authority Director Chrispas Ndinyo; the Director of Planning and Compliance at Nairobi County government Justus Kathenge; and Mathare sub-county administrator Seline Ogallo.

demolition site
© / © Michael Fuery

Authorities said that the building had been deemed unsuitable for human habitation and was slated for demolition in 2014, according to reports.

Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta had issued a call for the owners' arrests following the collapse, the report related. Nairobi’s governor, Evans Kidero, reportedly said that officials who approved the construction of the building would be dismissed.

The Standard reports that the owners did not have permission to rent out the building as it had been deemed “unsuitable for human habitation.”

Prosecutor Dancun Ondimu has asked the courts to detain the individuals for a 21-day investigation.

“The suspects are facing likelihood of being charged with either the offence of murder or manslaughter once investigations are complete and hence they are likely to abscond if released on bail and if they are released they were likely to jeopardize the ongoing investigations,” he said, according to The Standard.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Building owners; Construction; Demolition; Fatalities; Health and safety; Maintenance + Renovation; North America; Safety

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