Sunday, September 18, 2011

Five retrieved from collapsed building in west Kenya

By Valentine Obara, Calvin Okwaro, Benson Amadala 
Posted  Sunday, September 18  2011 at  15:45
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Five people trapped under the rubble of a collapsed building have been retrieved and two more found dead in an overnight rescue mission in Mwivona, Vihiga county.
The three storey-building under construction collapsed following heavy rain on Saturday. The number of those trapped in the rubble was earlier feared to have been higher since some passers-by were said to have sheltered in the building during the rain.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Local Government Musalia Mudavadi, who visited the area on Sunday, said the building's collapse resulted from a lack of capacity by the local authority to monitor its construction.
Mr Mudavadi said most local authorities in the country cannot afford hiring construction engineers to supervise construction of buildings in their respective jurisdictions.
“Local authorities lack the capacity to afford constructional engineers whom they can retain in their respective zones to undertake the problems that come with construction of buildings,” he said.
Mudavadi said that the building was being constructed by shoddy contractors and that the debris showed that consideration of proper structural requirements, quantity surveyors and engineers had been ignored.
“When you look at the structure it is clear that it was not designed professionally. The owner was using short cuts because there are no indications that a professional engineer was involved in its construction,” he said.
One of the survivors to the tragedy disclosed that no engineer had been seen at the site to carry out inspections during its construction.
David Opati, who had been working as a casual labourer, said they only had a foreman who was heading the construction works.
“The situation could have been worse had the rain not stopped because many people were sheltering at the building but they left only moments before we heard a thunder which shook the building and brought it down,” he said.
According to Mr Opati, 11 people, including a watchman were inside the building at the time of the incident.
However, Kenya Red Cross officials said they managed to retrieve five people and four bodies. Mr George Muyera, who was leading the rescue mission said the two had succumbed to fractures they sustained from the falling debris.
Three of the bodies had been identified and Mr Muyera urged the residents to come out and identify the remaining bodies.
“We call upon the public to report to us if they suspect that their relatives are still trapped. Some residents are claiming there are more people but no one is coming out to report that their relatives are missing,” he said.
Five of those who were rescued have been hospitalized at Kisumu Provincial hospital, Dophil medical center in Luanda and Maseno hospital. The bodies were taken to Dophil medical center mortuary.

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