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Four rescued after building collapses in Mathare, more likely trapped

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Mathare was inundated this month when the Mathare River, which runs through it, burst its banks after heavy rainfall, killing dozens.

Rescuers have pulled four people out of the rubble following the collapse of a building in the Mathare neighbourhood of Nairobi, the Kenya Red Cross reported on Tuesday, adding more people were likely trapped.

"Three out of the four rescued have been taken to a nearby health facility, while one with minor injuries was treated at the scene," the Red Cross wrote on social media platform X.



The building was undergoing demolition when it collapsed, the Red Cross said.

 

Riot police officers disperse metal scavengers during the search and rescue operations on the rubble of a residential flat that collapsed while undergoing demolition in Mathare River, Nairobi, on May 14, 2024. (Photo: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters)


Mathare, in the east of Nairobi, is home to several hundred thousand people and one of the city's largest informal settlements, where planning regulations are poorly enforced.

Mathare was inundated this month when the Mathare River, which runs through it, burst its banks after heavy rainfall, killing dozens and forcing thousands of people to leave their homes.

Kenyan Red Cross workers attend the search and rescue operations on the rubble of a residential flat built on riparian land, that collapsed while undergoing demolition near the Mathare River in Nairobi on May 14, 2024. (Photo: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters)


After weeks of heavy rains that have killed at least 289 people across the country, President William Ruto last month ordered residents to move away from flood-prone areas including in Mathare, where authorities began to destroy housing on riparian land deemed illegal.

Riot police officers disperse metal scavengers during the search and rescue operations on the rubble of a residential flat that collapsed while undergoing demolition in Mathare River, Nairobi, on May 14, 2024. (Photo: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters)


The collapsed five-story building had been partially demolished by officials a week ago, but some residents remained in their apartments, said Wanjiru Wanjiru, an activist with the Mathare Social Justice Centre, a local rights group.

"We are still reeling from this ecological crisis... I think people were not leaving because the government had not given people any money to resettle anywhere," Wanjiru told Reuters by telephone.

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