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One dies as building collapses in Nairobi

NAIROBI – Rescuers retrieved the body of a dead child, the first death from the collapse of an eight-story building in a low income area of the Kenyan capital, officials and witnesses said Tuesday.

A baby girl, a 10-year-old boy and their mother from the rubble of building Tuesday that had collapsed in a low-income part of Kenya’s capital, while two people were thought to remain trapped in the debris.

One man was believed to be missing, said National Disaster Management Unit Deputy Director Pius Mwachi.

“Due to delicate operations because of space to operate in, it may take more time,” Mwachi said Tuesday night. “There are other buildings surrounding the collapsed building; one of them is weak and denying us space.”

The collapse came just months after a government order to demolish all condemned buildings in the country and evacuate their residents.

Police said the collapse occurred late Monday night, with as many as 10 people at first thought to be trapped inside. On Tuesday, police fired tear gas after residents angered by the slow deployment of government rescuers hurled stones, said a resident, Hailey Akinyi.

Akinyi, who lives in an adjacent building, witnessed the collapse. The building and her own had been marked with an “X,” meaning they had been condemned by the National Construction Authority, she said. Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero confirmed the collapsed building had been condemned.

Most of the residents from the collapsed building evacuated after they noticed expanding cracks in the foundation, Akinyi said. A video one resident sent to The Associated Press before the collapse showed deep cracks in the foundation and walls.

Building collapses have become common in Nairobi, where 4 million people live in low-income areas or slums. Housing is in high demand and unscrupulous developers often bypass regulations.

After eight buildings collapsed and killed 15 people in Kenya in 2015, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered an audit of all the country’s buildings to see if they were up to code. The National Construction Authority found that 58 percent of buildings in Nairobi were unfit for habitation.

Last year a building collapse in another low-income area killed 37 people and injured 70. The rescue mission took days, during which a six-month-old baby and a pregnant woman were among those pulled to safety.

After that collapse, the government ordered all condemned buildings demolished and residents evacuated but the operation was never completed after media attention waned.

©Alleastafrica and agencies 

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