Kenya flood toll rises to 181 as homes, roads are destroyed

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Floods and landslides across Kenya have killed 181 people since March, with hundreds of thousands forced to leave their homes, the government and Red Cross said on Wednesday, as dozens more were killed in neighbouring Tanzania and Burundi.

Torrential rain and floods have destroyed homes, roads, bridges and other infrastructure across the region. The death toll in Kenya exceeds that from floods triggered by the El Nino weather phenomenon late last year.

In the central Kenyan town on Mai Mahiu, where at least 48 died in flash floods on Monday, two bodies were recovered from the debris on Wednesday, Kenya Red Cross South Rift Regional Manager Felix Maiyo said.

Military personnel accompanied by sniffer dogs had joined the search, Maiyo said. Earlier on Wednesday, government spokesperson Isaac Mwaura said the total death toll had risen by 10 to 179.

Last year’s rains followed the worst drought in large parts of East Africa in decades.

Residents affected after a seasonal river burst its banks following heavy rainfall in Kitengela municipality of Kajiado County

In Kitengela, 33 km from Nairobi, Kenya Red Cross workers were helping to rescue residents whose homes were marooned by flood waters.

They were also trying to rescue tourists trapped at camps in Narok, 215 km from Nairobi, the Kenya Red Cross said on X.

Kenya’s national highways authority said it had closed a section of a highway leading to the city and at least three other roads across the country due to flooding and debris.

The disaster prompted Pope Francis to speak out in sympathy with Kenyans during a general audience on Wednesday at the Vatican.

“I … wish to express to the people of Kenya my spiritual closeness at this time as severe flooding has tragically taken the lives of many of our brothers and sisters, injured others and caused widespread destruction,” he said.

Floods I Schools in Kenya remain closed