Gas Explosion Kills Three, Injures Nearly 300 People In Nairobi

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A huge gas explosion has occurred in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, killing at least three people and injuring nearly 300.

According to a government spokesperson, a lorry carrying gas exploded in Embakasi district at about 23:30 (20:30 GMT), “igniting a huge ball of fire”.

Houses, businesses and cars were damaged, with a video showing a huge blaze raging close to blocks of flats.

Earlier, the government had said the blast happened at a gas plant but the cause is still being established.

Embakasi police chief Wesley Kimeto said a child was among those who died in the explosion, adding that the death toll could rise. The Kenya Red Cross said it had taken 271 people to hospital and treated 27 others on site.

The fireball from the blast had “spread widely”, according to Isaac Mwaura Mwaura, the government spokesman and a flying gas cylinder had hit a garments and textiles warehouse, burning it down.

“The inferno further damaged several vehicles and commercial properties, including many small and medium-sized businesses,” he said in a statement.
“Sadly, residential houses in the neighbourhood also caught fire, with a good number of residents still inside, as it was late at night.”

Witnesses told local media they had felt tremors immediately after the blast.
Many of the injured are said to have inhalation injuries and they include at least 25 children, the Standard newspaper reports.

One of those hurt, Boniface Sifuna, described what had happened to the Reuters news agency: “I got burnt by an exploding gas canister as I was trying to escape,” he said.
“It exploded right in front of me and the impact knocked me down and the flames engulfed me. I am lucky that I was strong enough to get away.”

James Ngoge, who lives across the street from where the blast happened, told the AFP news agency that he was in his house at the time and “heard a huge explosion”.
“It felt like it was going to collapse. At first, we didn’t even know what was happening, it was like an earthquake.
“I have a business on the road that was completely destroyed.”

A firefighter gathers at the scene of an explosion at a makeshift gas cylinder refilling depot in Mradi estate, Embakasi district of Nairobi A journalist for the Nation newspaper living in the area said everyone had left their houses after the blast.
The Kenya Red Cross said on social media that crews had been “tirelessly battling the flames”.
Government spokesman Mr Mwaura said the blast scene had been secured and a command centre had been set up to help co-ordinate rescue operations.
“Kenyans are hereby advised to keep off the cordoned area to allow the rescue mission to be carried out [with] minimal disruptions,” he added.