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34 killed as villages swept away in Kenyan mudslides

It follows weeks of heavy rain in the east African country.

Passengers from stranded vehicles stand next to debris in Kenya
Passengers from stranded vehicles stand next to debris in Kenya
Image: AP/PA Images

AT LEAST 34 people have been killed in mudslides that occurred after heavy rains unleashed overnight floods in the western part of Kenya.

Interior cabinet secretary Fred Matiangi said 17 people died in a mudslide in the village of Takmal in the Pokot Central district, while 12 others lost their lives in mudslides in the villages of Parua and Tapach in Pokot South.

West Pokot County Commissioner Apollo Okello said five other people died when their car was swept away on the road between Kitale and Lodwar after two rivers overflowed their banks.

“We are saddened to confirm that 12 people from Tapach and Parua in Pokot South, and 17 from Tamkal in Pokot Central lost their lives,” Matiang’i said in a statement.

“Our profound sympathies go to the families and friends of those who have been affected.”

Okello also said that two children were pulled out alive from the smashed wreckage of their mud-covered homes.

Matiangi added that the government had sent military and police helicopters to help those affected by the floods, but that the scope of the disaster was not yet clear.

“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,” he said.

More than 1 million people in east Africa have been affected by flooding after higher-than-normal rainfall.

The latest deaths in Kenya bring to 72 the number of people who have died in a month-and-a-half due to flooding-related causes.

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

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

The torrential rain is uncommon for this time of year. Experts have said the changing weather patterns have a huge impact because close to 100% of Kenya’s agriculture is rain-fed.

“Massive landslides reported in various areas of West Pokot County following heavy downpour,” Kenya Red Cross said in a message, adding its emergency response teams had deployed to help.

With reporting from - © AFP 2019

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