Kenya floods death toll rises to 169, with more heavy rains expected

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Heavy rains pounding several parts of Kenya and devastating flash floods have left 169 people dead, a government official said, Xinhua reports. 

Government Spokesman Isaac Mwaura confirmed the death toll on Monday evening, saying a dam which burst on Monday morning in the western Kenyan town of Mai Mahiu has killed 48 people and affected scores of others.

"We have lost 169 people since the onset of the rains. The government has also intensified search and rescue operations to find persons who have been reported missing," Mwaura said on national television.

The East African nation is currently experiencing El Nino-induced above-average rainfall. The Kenya Meteorological Department has said that heavy rainfall will continue this week, with potential for flooding and landslides in some areas.

The recent heavy rainfall has resulted in major flash floods in Nairobi, Makueni, West Pokot, and Machakos counties, with loss of life and properties. The heavy rains have also cut off main roads, disrupted business across the country, and forced the postponement of the reopening of schools by a week from Monday.

The newly set up national multi-agency flood emergency team is implementing a series of measures to assist Kenyans in coping with the effects of the floods, including the provision of food, safe drinking water, health supplies, and rescue efforts, said Mwaura.

"We always have rains between March, April and May, but now they are above normal because of climate change," he said, adding that all five dams comprising the Seven Forks hydropower project along the Tana river, Kenya's longest, were at total capacity.

The devastating floods are exacerbating the country's humanitarian crisis in the wake of El Nino floods in late 2023 that killed at least 178 people, injured 242, and displaced thousands.

Kithure Kindiki, cabinet secretary of the interior and administration of Kenya's national government, on Monday ordered the inspection of all public and private dams and water reservoirs within 24 hours.

As Kenya continues to grapple with heavy rains, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday reiterated the United Nation's continued commitment to Kenya in the wake of deadly floods caused by weeks of heavy rains that continue to affect the region.

In a statement, Guterres said he was saddened by the loss of life and damage caused by flash floods in the capital, Nairobi, and other parts of the country. He extended condolences and solidarity to the families of the victims and to the people and government of Kenya.

The UN team on the ground has been working closely with the Kenyan government and its partners since the onset of the heavy rains earlier this year to respond to humanitarian needs, said his spokesperson.

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