(Nairobi) The death toll from the fire caused by a gas explosion in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on the night of Thursday to Friday rose to six, after three victims succumbed to their burns, the spokesperson announced on Sunday. word of the government.
Among the 280 injured, 53 are still being treated in two hospitals in the city, he added.
“We regret to announce that three people have succumbed to their injuries, bringing the number of deaths in the Embakasi fire to six,” Isaac Maigua Mwaura said in a statement.
The violent fire was started on Thursday around 11:30 p.m. local time (1:30 p.m. Eastern time) by the explosion of a truck near a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage and filling site located in the densely populated district of Embakasi, in the south-east of the capital.
This site is at the heart of a controversy and strong criticism towards the government, accused of having allowed such an installation to operate in a residential area.
The owner of the site is still being sought. “Research is still underway to find the owner of this company,” a police source told AFP on Sunday.
Only one person has so far been arrested: an agent responsible for monitoring the site where the explosion occurred.
The lawyer of the wanted person affirmed that his client was not hiding and rejected any responsibility.
“My client was not operating a gas filling plant, he was operating a garage and the vehicle that caused the accident was trespassing on his property,” he said at a news conference Saturday.
Authorities initially described the installation as “illegal.”
But the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) revealed on Saturday that a company named Maxxis Nairobi Energy had obtained permission on February 2, 2023 to set up. Four NEMA employees have been suspended.
President William Ruto slammed the “incompetence and corruption” of the officials who issued the license.
“Today we have injured people and Kenyans who have died. (…) The people who are involved (….) must be fired and prosecuted for the crimes they committed,” he said.
The Petroleum Institute of East Africa (PIEA), which brings together gas and oil companies in the region, stressed on Friday that this “illegal LPG filling and storage site” was known, the owner and some of his clients having been sentenced in May 2023.
The government and the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) for their part assured that three requests for the construction of an LPG storage and filling plant on the site of the explosion were rejected on last year, in March, June and July 2023.
The Ministers of Energy and the Interior also indicated in a joint statement on Friday evening that the factory built illegally on this site was demolished by EPRA twice in March 2020 and January 2021.