A fire has swept through Kenya’s largest open-air market, killing at least 15 people, including five children, and injuring 70 others, officials say.
“We have lost 15 people from this tragedy this morning,” said regional coordinator Kangethe Thuku on Thursday.
“We’re yet to establish the cause of this fire,” he said, which is believed to have started in a timber yard.
Search and rescue efforts have continued for at least nine bodies that remain in the smouldering ruins of the market’s furniture section.
Traders and nearby residents described fleeing the area as buildings collapsed.
The fire broke out at 1am in Nairobi’s Gikomba market, with local fire authorities containing the blaze within couple of hours, as some victims were ferried to Kenyatta National Hospital in the capital.
The hospital’s acting CEO Dr Thomas Mutie said that 28 males, 42 females and 17 children had been admitted to the hospital so far.
“Most of the patients have been seen in [Admission and Discharge] … and are being managed for anxiety, inhalation or burns,” he said.
“Five of them are severe inhalation or burns and are being taken care of in ICU.”
He said all admitted burns patients had suffered burns to at least 30 percent of their body. “We want to assure the public that we’re taking the best care of the patients,” he said.
Officials have set up an information post for those seeking information about family members, with patient visits limited to prevent the spread of infection.
Local Kenyan station NTV said hundreds of thousands of Kenyan shillings worth of property had been destroyed, with the exact figure yet to be determined.
This is not the first loss for market traders, who have experienced at least six major fires at the market in the last eight years.
Traders speaking to the media on Thursday morning said they’d yet to receive compensation for previous damages, and now faced further losses.