February 26, 2024

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Nairobi fire: A massive gas explosion and fire killed at least 3 people and injured hundreds in the Kenyan capital

Nairobi fire: A massive gas explosion and fire killed at least 3 people and injured hundreds in the Kenyan capital

Louis Tatou/AFP/Getty Images

People run for cover after a series of explosions in Nairobi's Embakasi area on February 2, 2024.



CNN

A gas explosion at an unlicensed cooking gas filling plant in the Kenyan capital on Thursday night killed at least three people and injured 280 others, according to authorities in the East African country.

Government spokesman Isaac Maigoa Mwaura said the fire started when a truck carrying gas exploded in Nairobi's Embakasi area at around 11:30 p.m. local time, “igniting a huge ball of fire that spread widely.”

A video posted on social media shows an explosion that resulted in a huge fireball. CNN cannot independently verify the footage.

Residential buildings, businesses and cars were damaged in the explosion and subsequent fire, Mwaura said in a social media post.

“As a result, three of their Kenyan colleagues […] They unfortunately lost their lives while attending [to] “At Nairobi Western Hospital,” Mwaura said.

“In addition, 280 other Kenyans have so far been injured in the fire and have since been transferred to various hospitals,” he added.

“Psychological and social counseling is provided to victims who have suffered trauma.”

Louis Tatou/AFP/Getty Images

A video posted on social media shows an explosion that resulted in a huge fireball. CNN cannot independently verify the footage.

Louis Tatou/AFP/Getty Images

An official said that residential buildings, businesses and cars were damaged in the explosion and fire that followed.

One resident told CNN that his house was destroyed in the inferno. “My house was completely damaged,” said Alex Ontita, 25, who lives with his aunt and uncle.

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“I was scared and emotional because this was where I lived and now it burned down. I have nowhere to go,” added Ontita, who said he was at the scene all night.

Other residents like 29-year-old Velek Kirobo were also counting their losses from the explosion. Kirobo told CNN outside her destroyed store that she was asleep when the explosion occurred.

She added that her 27-year-old brother, who was injured in the fire, is now receiving treatment at a medical facility in the capital.

Another survivor, Edwin Macchio, described how he desperately fled the scene. “I was caught on fire from about a kilometer away while I was running away,” Macchio told Reuters.

Explaining his injuries to a Reuters reporter, he added: “The flames resulting from the explosion knocked me to the ground and burned me in my neck.”

The Kenya Red Cross said it had evacuated 271 people to hospitals across Nairobi and was “tirelessly fighting the fire” along with other agencies.

Spokesman Mwaura said a command center had been established at the scene to coordinate rescue operations and other intervention efforts, adding that the scene had now been secured.

He added: “We advise Kenyans to stay away from the cordoned off area in order to allow the rescue mission to be carried out (with) minimal disruption.”

The Kenya Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) said on Friday that the explosion occurred at an unlicensed cooking gas filling plant.

EPRA said it received applications for building permits for an LPG storage and filling plant at the site in March, June and July of 2023, but all applications were rejected because they did not meet plant standards in that area.

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The applications were rejected because the designs “failed to meet the safety distances stipulated in Kenya’s standards,” she said in a statement, adding that she had noticed the high population density around the proposed site.