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Kenya police put death toll from pipeline explosion at 75

(Xinhua)

10:24, September 13, 2011

Rescuers work at the scene of a fire at a slum near the industrial area of Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 12, 2011. A huge explosion that occurred in a slum village near the Kenya Pipeline Company depot off Lunga Lunga road in Nairobi's Industrial Area on Monday. (Xinhua/Song Chen)

NAIROBI, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan authorities have confirmed that at least 75 people were burned to death while 118 others who were seriously injured have been hospitalized after a fuel pipeline burst into flames in Nairobi's fuel depot.

However, rescuers had put the death toll from the explosion, which went off at 8:30 a.m. local time (0530 GMT) at Nairobi's Sinai slum, which is surrounded by the densely packed tin-shack housing, at more than 120.

"Kenya Police would like to inform the public that 75 persons have been confirmed dead so far while 118 are admitted in hospitals within Nairobi," Police Commissioner Matthew Iteere said in a statement issued on Monday night.

Iteere said investigations into the circumstances leading to the fire have commenced in earnest as efforts to make the affected area safe and evacuate casualties are almost completed.

The statement came as firefighters scrambled across the corrugated rooftops of burning shacks to pour foam on petrol that flowed down the slum's muddy alleyways. Ambulances ferried dozens of wounded to nearby hospitals.

Meanwhile, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka who also visited the scene has regretted that many Kenyans, particularly those living in informal sectors have continued to lose lives and property due to disasters such as fire.

"Urgent measures should be taken in order to develop slums in the country. Many people in slums live in deplorable conditions and lack basic infrastructure," he said at the scene where badly charred bodies littered the area, while some were piled into the Nairobi River, which passes by.

They died as they tried to swim across the river to safety.

The vice president called for quick investigations to be carried out in order to know the root cause of the tragedy.

Musyoka said it was not time to blame one another on what may have caused the fire.

He sent a message of condolence to those who lost their loved ones and wished quick recovery those who were injured.

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