A dam in Nakuru County burst after heavy rains on Wednesday night, but residents are suspecting a structural default. Search operations are continuing, while some families have already headed to morgues to identify their relatives.
Kenya’s prosecuting authority has ordered an investigation into the cause of the dam collapse that killed at least 45 people and displaced over a thousand.
Early Friday morning, rumors of a second dam burst caused panic and frantic evacuation in the town of Solai. Soldiers were trying to get people to move more quickly, as residents were fleeing to higher ground. But it turned out to be a false alarm.
In fact, the local government was draining water from another dam.
Mongo Chimwanga, Regional Police Commissioner of the Rift Valley, said that with the amount of discharge in the dam, any subsequent raining may be dangerous, so they decided to remove excess water in a controlled way.
“They’ve released some water in a controlled way, through the outlets. That is one factor, then two, they are using three pumps to aid in the relieving of that pressure from the amount of discharge in the dam,” he said.
Engineers and officials from the water ministry were on site, monitoring the remaining two dams.
After the initial panic, search operations have resumed in Solai.
Rebeka Kemer and other displaced residents are among those evacuated on Friday morning. She says she and her neighbors are traumatized.
Her four-year-old son, James, has been missing since Wednesday night. To confirm he is dead, she has to make the long trip from Solai to Nakuru.
And a day after the dam burst, she had already found her mother’s body.
Half of the bodies recovered from the wreckage of the villages have yet to be identified. Rebeka Kemer says she will keep coming to Nakuru to check until her son is found.