Solai killer dam was illegal even as death toll reaches 44

The remains of Solai Dam in Nakuru County

The remains of Solai Dam in Nakuru County

Witnesses have reported hearing loud sounds before the water came in.

"We took our children and rushed to higher ground", farmer Joseph Maina told The Associated Press. They take a keener interest in the hedges and fences that would have trapped anything which was washed away.

At least 41 people died after a dam burst in central Kenya, police said on Thursday, as residents described muddy waters ripping through their homes in what one survivor called "hell on earth".

Kenya is one of the largest suppliers of cut flowers to Europe, and roses from the 3,500-acre Solai farm are exported to the Netherlands and Germany, according to Optimal Connection, its Netherlands-based handling agent.

There are fears that the death toll could hit 100 as over 40 people are still missing, with rescue efforts now ongoing.

"I can't say when my children will go back to school", the single mother said.

The walls of the dam burst Wednesday following heavy rains, sweeping away hundreds of homes and affecting about 2,500 residents of the area. The floods hit as the East African nation was recovering from a severe drought that affected half of the country.

"People should not worry, the dams are safe and will not crumble", said Jayakumar.

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The Kenya Red Cross said it was supporting about 500 displaced families following the tragedy.

The management of Patel Coffee Estates Limited in Solai, where one of the dams broke and flooded areas downstream, killing at least 48 people, has denied claims that the dams on their property are illegal.

"When there is heavy rain on the upper side, a lot of material like rocks and tree stumps are swept into the dam and this poses a risk to the stability of its walls".

He asked the IG to submit a report of the investigations in 14 days.

The government will investigate the structural integrity of all the country's dams to ensure they are safe.

Nakuru county governor Lee Kinyanjui said 40 people had been reported missing and were yet to be found. Military helicopters and personnel in the past week have been deployed to rescue people marooned by the flooding.

The tragedy was made all the more devastating since the dam burst at night when locals were sleeping and could not escape. The National Construction Authority in the past has blamed contractors of bypassing building codes to save on cost.

More than 150 people have been killed and 300,000 displaced in Kenya, where the damage runs into millions of dollars.

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