Nairobi: More than 100 people burned to death in a fire on a fuel pipeline in a slum area in the Kenyan capital, police said today.
“We are putting the number of dead at over 100, we are waiting for body bags to put the victims into,” said Thomas Atuti, area police commander.
The explosion took place in Nairobi’s Lunga Lunga industrial area, which is surrounded by the densely packed tin-shack housing of the Sinai slum.
“There had been a leak in the fuel pipeline earlier, and people were going to collect the fuel that was coming out,” said Joseph Mwego, a resident.
“Then there was a loud bang, a big explosion, and smoke and fire burst up high.” Many residents were caught up in the blaze, and an AFP reporter at the scene counted scores of charred bodies around the fire.
“People were trying to scoop fuel from the pipeline,” a Red Cross official told AFP by telephone, adding that the organisation had sent a team to the scene of the fire.
Firefighters sprayed chemical foam to try to contain the fire, while both police and soldiers roped off the area and pushed people back from the area.
Fuel leaks and oil tanker accidents in Africa often draw huge crowds scrambling to scoop fuel, resulting in many deaths due to accidental fires.
In 2009, 122 people were killed after a fire erupted while they were drawing fuel from an overturned tanker in western Kenya.