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Kenyan floods leave tourists stranded at iconic Maasai Mara

May 1, 2024

The world-famous wildlife reserve is the latest area of Kenya to be affected by torrential rains that have claimed more than 170 lives and displaced more than 195,000 people across the nation.

An aerial view of flooding in the Maasai Mara
Tourists and safari workers have been trapped by Kenya's torrential rainsImage: Bobby Neptune/AP Photo/picture alliance

Around 100 tourists were among those stranded in Kenya's Maasai Mara game reserve on Wednesday amid ongoing floods that have devastated the country.

Torrential rains, amplified by the El Nino weather pattern, have battered the East African nation for weeks, claiming more than 170 lives, blocking roads and sweeping away homes. More than 195,000 people have been displaced.

The latest incident occurred when a river broke its banks in the Maasai Mara reserve on Wednesday morning.

Local official Stephen Nakola told the AFP news agency that "approximately 100 or more tourists" as well as workers had been marooned by the flooding.

An aerial view of flooding in the Maasai Mara
The Kenyan Red Cross began air rescues after a river broke its banks in the Maasai Mara reserveImage: Bobby Neptune/AP Photo/picture alliance

"That is the preliminary number as of now because some of the camps are unaccessible," he added.

The Maasai Mara wildlife reserve is a tourist magnet that is home to the so-called "Big Five" — lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards and buffalo.

Rescue operations underway

The Kenya Red Cross said it had rescued 61 people from camps and lodges in the Maasai Mara by land and by air.

"In some camps, tents have been swept away and the Mara bridge, linking the Mara Triangle and the Greater Mara, has been washed away," the Red Cross said on social media.

Search and rescue operations remain ongoing across the country.

On Tuesday, President William Ruto ordered the military to join the disaster response.

Ruto previously referred to Kenyans affected by the flooding as "victims of climate change," after the phenomenon exacerbated already-strong weather patterns.

Kenya floods displace at least 190,000 people

zc/nm (AFP, AP)