At least 44 people have died after a dam burst in northern Kenya after weeks of torrential rain, officials said Thursday.
Residents have been evacuated from affected areas as 40 people remain missing, a regional commissioner of Rongai division, Mwongo Chimwanga said.
“Waterways have been opened to discharge water from one of the dams. A village near that dam has been evacuated,” Chimwanga said in a statement.
The Kenya Red Cross estimated that up to 500 families have been hit by the disaster, which took place in Solai, near the Rift Valley town of Nakuru, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) northwest of the capital of Nairobi.
The Patel Dam burst its banks following heavy rains at around nine pm Wednesday, sweeping away homes, according to Lee Kinyanjui, the governor of Nakuru County.
Kinyanjui told CNN that those affected by the dam, which is on a commercial farm, are “mostly workers and small-scale farmers.”
“It’s a big farm that employs a majority of the people living in the village. They are in horticulture, coffee, tea among others. The farm has existed for over two generations,” he added.
In an earlier post on Twitter, Kinyanjui said the water had caused “huge destruction of both life and property.”
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SOURCE: CNN, Anna Cardovillis and Stephanie Busari