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Death toll from Kenya's inferno climbs to 87

(Xinhua)

16:28, September 14, 2011

NAIROBI, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- The number of Kenyans who have died from the petrol explosion and fire at an informal settlement in Nairobi has reached 87, the country's humanitarian aid agency said on Wednesday.

The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) Disaster Risk Reduction Officer Daniel Mutinda said four more people died at the hospital on Tuesday while one body was retrieved from the scene early on Wednesday. "We have just retrieved a body from the sewer inside the stream while four more people lost their lives while undergoing treatment at the hospital bringing the death toll to 87," Mutinda told Xinhua on Wednesday.

He said rescuers and family members are still searching for the dead in a nearby river, where charred corpses can be seen as some relatives of those missing after Monday's tragic fire at Sinai slum spent the better part of Tuesday and Wednesday shuffling between hospitals and mortuaries searching for their kin.

Mutinda said up to 37 people had been reported missing by Tuesday afternoon. "That is the number of people who have made the reports to us but more and more people are coming because we also have a tent at the Kenyatta National Hospital," he said.

The missing were among hundreds of people who had been siphoning fuel when a pipeline with highly flammable super petrol burst causing a massive fire that killed at least 87 people according to the Red Cross.

More than 115 people are reported to have injured after a petrol pipeline exploded and started a fire in an informal settlement located next to the fuel depot.

The informal settlement, known as Sinai, is located in the industrial area of Nairobi where the fire is believed to have caused extensive damage in.

The exact cause of the explosion remains unknown, although it is believed to be linked to a petrol leak spilling into an open sewer in Sinai, a densely populated Sinai area lies between Nairobi's city centre and the airport.

Experts say fire can spread rapidly in Nairobi's slums and informal settlements which are often located in areas which make them vulnerable to fire, such as the industrial area with its petrol pipes and depots.

The poor quality of construction of homes, the materials used and the overcrowded conditions in settlements can all increase the risk of fires.

This latest incident of fire basically illustrates the particular vulnerability and inadequate conditions faced by people living in slums and informal settlements.

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