Gas explosion sparks massive fire in Nairobi, killing 3 and injuring 298

The explosion erupted in Nairobi overnight as residents slept.

February 2, 2024, 5:56 AM

LONDON -- At least three people were killed and 298 others were injured late Thursday when a gas explosion sparked an inferno in Kenya's capital as residents were asleep, authorities said.

A fire resulting from a gas explosion was reported in the Mradi area of Nairobi's Embakasi neighborhood at 11:30 p.m. local time. The wounded were evacuated and transported to various hospitals across the city, according to a statement from the Kenya Police Service.

Dozens of others received medical treatment on site, according to Emergency Plus Medical Services, a private ambulance service owned by the Kenya Red Cross Society.

The blaze, which burned homes and warehouses, has since been contained and the scene secured, police said.

Military firefighters gather near the scene of an explosion at a makeshift gas cylinder refilling depot in Mradi estate, Embakasi district, in Nairobi, Kenya, on Feb. 2, 2024.
Stringer via Reuters

Kenya Police Service Deputy Inspector General Douglas Kanja visited the site Friday morning and a multi-agency team remains on scene, according to police.

The Kenya Red Cross said in a statement Friday that its staff were currently at the site "providing first aid and psychosocial support services to those affected." The organization also said it had set up a "tracing desk" and was assisting with search and rescue efforts. So far, 21 children who were separated from their families in the aftermath of the explosion have been reunited with their parents, according to the Kenya Red Cross.

Meanwhile, Nairobi City County has waived the hospital bills for all victims and begun distributing essential food and non-food items to the affected families, according to a statement from Kenyan government spokesperson Isaac Mwaura.

The incident remains under investigation and the government is calling on people to donate blood and items to support the victims, Mwaura said.

Firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire in Embakasi, Nairobi, Kenya, on Feb. 2, 2024.
Stringer via EPA via Shutterstock

The explosion apparently occurred at an illegal liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) plant. Kenya's Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) confirmed that it had rejected applications for construction permits for an LPG storage and filling plant at the site in 2023.

The main reason for the rejection was failure of the designs to meet the safety distances stipulated in the Kenya Standard," the agency said in a statement Friday. "EPRA noted the high population density around the proposed site and the applicant was requested to submit a Qualitative Risk Assessment clearly indicating the radiation blast profiles in the unfortunate case of an explosion like the one that happened yesterday."

"The applicant never provided the requested QRA resulting in the rejection of the applications," EPRA added. "Email correspondences providing reasons for the rejection were sent to the applicant."

EPRA said it takes actions to "ensure that operating licenses for all plants rated below the high safety integrity status are revoked" and that "illegal plants operating across the country" are demolished.

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