Africa

Kenya building collapse: Demolition of unfit houses starts

Bulldozer demolishing buildings in Hurama, Nairobi, 6 May 2016
Image caption The network of low-rise buildings was home to around 600 people

Authorities in Kenya's capital Nairobi have begun demolishing homes in an area where the collapse of a building killed at least 42 people last week.

Eight buildings deemed unfit to live in were the first to be destroyed in the district of Huruma. More than 200 are to follow.

Officials say many of the houses are substandard or built on unsafe grounds.

A recue operation continues at the collapsed building, which had been declared unfit for human habitation.

At least 70 people are still missing, while 140 have been rescued.

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Five reasons why buildings collapse

The first structure that was demolished was a network of eight low-rise buildings with an estimated 600 residents.

People were warned a week ago to vacate, but many were seen taking their possessions out on Friday morning.

Another 90 houses will be pulled down next. Other areas affected include Roysambu, Hazina, Zimmerman, Kahawa West, Umoja and Dagoretti.

Image caption People raced against time to take their belongings out of their homes
Image caption Residents had been told to vacate a week ago
Image caption Buildings lined up for demolition are marked with a red cross

The six-storey building collapsed on 29 April, at the height of Kenya's rainy season.

A local MP said it was built less than 5m (15 feet) from a river, when it should have been at least 30m away.

The National Construction Authority said it had marked the building as unfit for habitation, but that the local government had failed to follow up.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The rescue operation began shortly after the building collapsed on Friday

The two owners of the building were taken into custody but released on $5,000 (£3,450) bail Wednesday, pending formal charges.

Many of Nairobi's four million people live in low-income areas or slums. Housing is in high demand, and unscrupulous developers often bypass regulations.

Pulled out alive

As rescue operations continue, four people were pulled out alive on Thursday.

Crowds cheered as 24-year-old woman was rescued, in scenes broadcast live on Kenyan TV.

Rescuers had smashed through slabs of concrete to reach Elizabeth Night Odhiambo, who was eight months pregnant.

Image caption Elizabeth Night Odhiambo was given an intravenous drip and oxygen while rescuers tried to dig her out
Image copyright AP
Image caption Ms Odhiambo was rushed to hospital and survived, but she lost her baby

Soldiers, firefighters and volunteers have been searching for survivors since the 29 April collapse of the building.

Trained dogs had been brought in, along with special equipment to detect breathing and movement, military spokesman David Obonyo told AP news agency.

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