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Dozens killed in Kenyan mudslides

November 23, 2019

Kenya has been experiencing a heavier-than-usual rainy season that has unleashed flooding in the northwest of the country. Researchers say warming oceans are causing unpredictable weather patterns in East Africa.

Passengers from stranded vehicles stand next to debris from floodwaters in western Kenya
Image: picture-alliance/AP

At least 36 people — including seven children — were killed in mudslides in Kenya on Saturday, according to the country's Interior Ministry. At least five others died in flooding-related incidents in the East African nation.

The downpour began on Friday near the Ugandan border and worsened overnight, causing flooding and mudslides that swept away four bridges and left the worst-affected village, Muino, inaccessible by road. 

"More people are marooned and the entire village is at risk of being wiped out by the floods," the county's governor, John Lonyangapuo, said as he waited for a helicopter to transport him to survey the damage.

Read more: Italy: Venice floods cause mayor to declare a state of emergency

Heavy rains to persist

Eleven of the people killed were in the same house, Lonyangapuo said.

He added that more than 500 vehicles were stuck on roads damaged by the landslides. Rescue efforts were underway in the area.

Harsh rescue conditions

The Kenyan government sent military and police helicopters to help those affected by the floods, but the scope of the disaster was not yet clear, according to Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi.

"While rescue and recovery efforts remain the priority, a full assessment into the extent of damage caused continues to be a challenge due to harsh weather conditions,'' Matiangi said. 

The International Rescue Committee said earlier this month that many people had been reeling from an earlier severe drought in the region. 

Heavy rain in parts of Somalia, South Sudan and Kenya are expected for four to six more weeks.

kw/sms (AP, Reuters)

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