Bloomberg News

Kenyan Death Toll From Pipeline Blast Rises to at Least 82

September 13, 2011

(Updates with comment from Kenya Red Cross starting in first paragraph.)

Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The death toll from yesterday’s pipeline explosion near the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, rose to at least 82 people, the Kenyan Red Cross said.

“We have retrieved six more bodies this morning,” Daniel Mutinda, the Red Cross’s disaster risk reduction officer, said by phone today. The Red Cross is providing shelter and food for more than 100 people affected by the blast, he said.

About 118 people were injured in the blaze that took place when leaking fuel from a pipeline operated by Kenya Pipeline Co. spilled into a storm drain and ignited close to the Mukuru slum, about 11 kilometers (7 miles) east of Nairobi, said Thomas Atuti, the police chief for the area. Some people who caught fire jumped into a nearby river and drowned, he said.

Investigations into the exact cause of the latest explosion are under way, police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said in an e- mailed statement late yesterday. Kenya Pipeline is conducting an internal study and is extending its “sincere apologies” to the people who lost family members and property or were injured, Managing Director Selest Kilinda said in Nairobi today.

The company recovered about 67 percent of an estimated 50,000 liters (13,200 gallons) of oil in the spill, he said.

Kenya Pipeline, the state-run company in charge of the pipeline that runs from the port city of Mombasa through Nairobi to western Kenya, has repaired the rupture and the system is operating normally, said Operations Manager Philip Kimelu.

President Mwai Kibaki called on Kenyans to observe two national days of mourning starting tomorrow, the Nairobi-based presidency said in an e-mailed statement today.

Kenya’s worst petroleum accident occurred in January 2009, when 94 people died after a gasoline tanker overturned and burst into flames at Molo in the Rift Valley province, about 167 kilometers northwest of Nairobi.

--With assistance from Sarah McGregor in Nairobi. Editors: Paul Richardson, Karl Maier, Heather Langan

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Ombok in Nairobi at eombok@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.


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