Kenya gasoline blast kills at least 75

Joseph Mwangi, 34, sits in a state of shock after discovering the charred remains of two of his children, one age 6, the other of unknown age, at the scene of a fuel explosion in Nairobi.

Associated Press

Joseph Mwangi, 34, sits in a state of shock after discovering the charred remains of two of his children, one age 6, the other of unknown age, at the scene of a fuel explosion in Nairobi.

NAIROBI, Kenya — More than 75 people died Monday in a densely populated Nairobi slum after an explosion and fire caused by gasoline from a leaking pipe.

At least 116 badly burned people, many of them children, were taken to hospitals. Many were not expected to survive, as medical staff struggled with shortages of blood for transfusions.

Witnesses described a scene from hell: charred bodies strewn around the area and floating in a nearby river, where burning people had jumped into the water to extinguish flames.

Officials said 61 bodies had been recovered, with the death toll likely to rise as more bodies were found. Local radio reports said at least 102 people died.

The precise number of dead and their identities may never be known. Some people were burned so badly that only skeletons remained.

The blast occurred in the Sinai slum district about 9 a.m., after fuel leaked from a depot owned by the Kenya Pipeline Co. and through a drain pipe into a river, according to residents. At dawn, the smell of gasoline sent residents scurrying for containers to collect the spilled fuel.

The cause of the blast, which ignited a fire that tore through shacks in the crowded shantytown, wasn't immediately known. Police suspected a cigarette butt may have sparked the inferno.

A group of children crammed into an informal school nearby were reportedly killed.

Firefighters struggled to put out the blaze, scrambling over the roofs of the shacks to spray flame-retardant foam.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who visited the site, promised an investigation into the blast.

Kenya gasoline blast kills at least 75 09/12/11 [Last modified: Monday, September 12, 2011 11:58pm]

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