At Least 82 Killed in Kenya Pipeline Blast

Posted September 13th, 2011 at 6:56 am (UTC-5)
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Kenyan officials say the death toll from a massive gasoline pipeline explosion and fire in the capital continues to rise. At least 82 people perished in the fire and more than 100 others were injured.

Nairobi residents joined local officials Tuesday in the continuing search for more victims.

Authorities say the trouble began Monday morning after a valve on the pipeline burst, causing fuel to spill into an open sewer in the densely populated Sinai slum.

People rushed to the spill to scoop up the free gasoline. Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi told VOA some in the group in the area were cooking and others smoking, likely setting off the fire that consumed a large area.

The blast left charred bodies in the streets and in a nearby stream, where many people jumped trying to extinguish flames on their clothing and hair.

Flames from the blast also burned down some nearby buildings and shacks.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered his sympathy to the families of the victims, and said the U.N. stands with Kenyans at this difficult time.

Such accidents are not uncommon in Africa, where pipeline leaks and tanker truck crashes often draw crowds of people trying to collect free fuel.

In 2009, at least 120 people were killed in western Kenya when an overturned tanker truck caught fire.