| SEPTEMBER 12, 2011 11:37 AM
As many as 100 people are feared dead in a fire caused by a leaking fuel pipeline in a densely populated area of Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, according to police.
The blast took place Monday in the city’s Lunga-Lunga industrial area, and police and troops cordoned off the area as firefighters battled fierce flames in the surrounding shanty town. Flames leapt out from the pipeline in a radius of about a 1000 feet, setting shacks ablaze and incinerating scores of people, the Associated Press reported. More than 110 people have been taken to hospital, officials said.The pipeline runs through the densely populated Sinai slum area between Nairobi’s city centre and the airport.
Reports suggest the explosion may have been sparked by a cigarette butt being thrown into an open sewer that was filling with fuel. There had been a leak in the fuel pipeline earlier, and people were going to collect the fuel that was coming out,” said Joseph Mwego, a resident. Another resident of the Sinai slum said people were rushing to fill their jerry cans with free petrol. “I was going to the loo, (washroom), down by the river just after 4am when I saw the gold flowing from the pipe. I ran home and grabbed two jerry cans and went back to fill them up. As I finished and turned away there was a boom as the fuel ignited,” said Sammy Njenga, a 21-year-old unemployed slum dweller.
Television images and photographs showed a horrific scene of charred shacks and smoldering human remains. Residents told The Associated Press that the slum structures had been built right up against the pipeline. The fire burned with such heat that some of the remains were reduced to little more than bones.
The Kenyan prime minister, Raila Odinga, visited the scene and promised help for the victims. “The government will do everything possible to ensure the injured will be treated and the families who have lost their loved ones will be compensated,” he said.