Death toll from Kenya's market inferno rises to 15
The death toll from the dawn fire that destroyed Nairobi's biggest open air market, Gikomba, has risen to 15 and more than 70 others have been hospitalized, a government official said, Xinhua reported.
Nairobi Regional Coordinator Kangethe Thuku said nine bodies discovered inside a residential building at the open-air market are yet to be retrieved while six have been moved to the mortuary.
Thuku who is coordinating rescue operations following the 2 a.m. inferno that razed down several market stalls said the deceased included four children.
"We managed to contain the fire at around 4 a.m. We have not identified the cause of the fire," Thuku told journalists at the scene.
Emergency service provider, St John's Ambulance, also confirmed the death toll, saying the injured were rushed to various hospitals with burns. The agency said multi-agency search and rescue operations are ongoing.
"Death toll rises to 15, and 70 injured following the 2:30 a.m. inferno at Gikomba Market," said the agency in its tweet. St Johns Ambulance said the fire broke out and spread fast to residential areas.
The incident left many traders with losses after a section that deals with timber and clothes area was gutted down. Thuku said some of those who died inhaled poisonous fumes as they attempted to salvage their property.
He said the government has established a command centre and appealed to the public to report anyone missing.
Witnesses said some of the injured were trying to salvage their valuables. Others were in their houses near the market when the fire broke out.
Nairobi County police commander Joseph Ole Tito said they are yet to establish the cause of the fire but noted that security officers were on the ground assisting other agencies in the search and rescue operations.
Gikomba Market, mostly known for its traders who sell second-hand clothes, has been grappling with a spate of fires incidents blamed on business cartels or criminal groups.
Several market stalls have been razed to the ground and the frequent occurrence of such incidents has raised eyebrows in different quarters.
The open air market suffered a raging inferno in 2015 that affected 10,000 small scale traders.