A dam in Kenya has burst its banks after weeks of heavy rainfall, causing “huge destruction” and killing at least 27 people, according to local media.
The breach happened in the town of Solai, which is approximately 120 miles northwest of the capital of Nairobi, late on Wednesday.
Regional police chief Gideon Kibunja confirmed to a local radio station in Nairobi on Thursday that the death toll had risen overnight to 27 people, while 40 others were in need of medical treatment in hospital.
“The water has caused huge destruction of both life and property. The extent of the damage has yet to be ascertained,” Lee Kinyajui, governor of Nakuru county, said in a statement via Twitter.
The Kenya Red Cross said it had rescued 39 people shortly after the dam burst, while several people were feared to be trapped in thick mud which had spilled over from the reservoir — spreading over a radius of just over 1 mile.
Kenya’s Daily Nation reported local citizens had heard an “explosion” from the Patel Dam shortly before water started gushing out, sweeping over hundreds of homes.
Heavy rainfall and severe flash floods in countries across East Africa have left more than 300 people dead and displaced thousands of others over the past two months — with Kenya and Rwanda the worst hit.
Kenya’s government said Wednesday that the ongoing torrential rains have killed 132 people and displaced more than 220,000 people in 32 counties since March. The rainfall and flooding has also prevented or limited humanitarian access to many of the affected areas.
The extreme weather comes at a time when the country is also trying to tackle a cholera outbreak as well as an epidemic of the mosquito-linked chikungunya virus.