At least 38 dead as hundreds of homes are swept away after dam bursts in Kenya

At least 38 dead as hundreds of homes are swept away after dam bursts in KenyaAt least 38 people died when their homes were swept away after a dam burst in southern Kenya following heavy rains, officials have said. Weeks of torrential rain had already affected 220,000 people in in the country before the Patel Dam in Solai near the Rift Valley city of Nakuru was breached on Wednesday night.  Regional police chief Gideon Kibunjah confirmed the death toll has risen overnight to 38 and the disaster left 40 people needing hospital treatment.  Hundreds of homes in the neighborhood – estimated to be around 450 – were destroyed, including those on the expansive Nyakinyua Farm, which borders the dam's water reservoir. Mr Kibunjah said: "The search and rescue exercise is ongoing and more bodies have been retrieved. The death toll is now 27. "It is a disaster because most people were asleep when the tragedy occurred and their houses were swept away." Police officers speaking from the scene say the private Patel dam, used for irrigation and fish farming, may have lacked a proper outlet. Police chief Joseph Kioko said many were feared missing and officials said the dam water and mud flooded out of the reservoir and submerged homes, extending to a radius of more than a mile (almost 2km). Volunteers search for survivors of the disaster Credit: AFP The Kenyan Red Cross estimates that up to 500 families were affected by the disaster, which took place some 150 kilometres (90 miles) northwest of Nairobi. Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui said: "The water has caused huge destruction of both life and property. The extent of the damage has yet to be ascertained. "We have set up a centre near the scene for families to report missing members to enable us to reunite them." Several villages were affected around Nakuru, Kenya's fourth-largest city, as well as two schools. Weeks of torrential rains in Kenya have led to flooding and mudslides, and the latest deaths take to 159 the death toll countrywide. Government statistics released Wednesday showed that more than 220,000 people have been displaced by flooding as heavy rains hit the country after three consecutive failed rainy seasons had left it in drought. Since March, at least 21,000 acres (8,500 hectares) of farmland have been submerged in water with an estimated 20,000 animals killed, the Red Cross said last week. The floods have also destroyed road networks in some parts of the East African country and in some cases the military has stepped in to airlift residents from submerged houses.

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