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Kenya Floods Claim 228 Lives as Crisis Continues: Government Warns of Further Risks

It has been reported that the death toll in Kenya due to continuous heavy rains and floods has reached 228. The situation seems to be worsening with no sign of relief in sight. Although Kenya and neighboring Tanzania managed to avoid severe damage from a recent tropical cyclone, which weakened after hitting land on Saturday, the government in Nairobi has cautioned that the country is still at risk of heavy downpours, floods, and landslides.

In western Kenya, the River Nyando overflowed its banks early Sunday, submerging a police station, school, hospital, and market in Ahero town, Kisumu County, according to police reports. While there were no immediate reports of casualties, local police noted that water levels were rising, and the main bridge outside Kisumu on the Nairobi highway was underwater.

The region has been plagued by weeks of unusually heavy seasonal rains exacerbated by the El Niño weather pattern, causing widespread havoc in East Africa, a region highly susceptible to climate change. Over 400 people have died, and several hundred thousand have been displaced from their homes across multiple countries as floods and mudslides devastate houses, roads, and bridges.

Government spokesman Isaac Mwaura emphasized the gravity of the situation at a crisis briefing, stating that while the cyclone had weakened, it had brought strong winds, waves along the coast, and the expectation of intensified heavy rains later Sunday. He reported one fisherman dead and another missing.

The disaster has claimed 228 lives in Kenya since March, with 72 people still unaccounted for, according to government data. Over 212,000 individuals have been displaced, many of whom were evacuated either voluntarily or by force.

Authorities have issued orders for residents near major rivers or dams to evacuate for their safety, as many dams and reservoirs are on the verge of overflowing. Mwaura also highlighted the risk of waterborne diseases, with a case of cholera already reported along with incidents of diarrhea.

Jagan Chapagain, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), expressed serious concerns about a broader humanitarian crisis due to forecasts of more rainfall.

Criticism has been directed at the Kenyan government for its perceived lack of preparedness and slow response to the crisis, despite prior weather warnings. The main opposition Azimio party has called for the declaration of a national disaster.

President William Ruto, in a national address on Friday, described the weather situation as dire, attributing the recurring cycle of drought and floods to environmental neglect.

In Kenya’s deadliest incident, 58 people lost their lives when a dam burst near Mai Mahiu in the Rift Valley north of Nairobi, with several dozen still missing. Rescue efforts are also underway for 13 individuals missing after a boat capsized in Tana River County, resulting in seven fatalities, as reported by the interior ministry.

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