September 23, 2019

Seven children killed and dozens injured as school classroom collapses in Kenya

Emergency service workers search through the rubble of the collapsed school in Nairobi

The tragedy happened as students were starting their lessons in the capital Nairobi today.

Seven children were killed and 64 injured when a classroom collapsed as students were starting their morning lessons at a school in Kenya's capital Nairobi today.

Television stations showed images of rescue workers sifting through metal sheeting and slabs of concrete at the Precious Talent school, and carrying white body bags to an ambulance.

"I had just dropped my son to school and heard screams on my way back," Margaret Muthoni, whose four-year-old son was injured, told AFP news agency. "I am just lucky my son survived." 

Kepha Otieno said he lost his five-year-old daughter to the tragedy, adding: "I just can't believe. It is too hard for me and the family."

Hundreds of angry residents of Dagoretti, a poor suburb where many live in makeshift homes, swarmed around the site where rescuers picked through the rubble.

An AFP reporter at the site said books and desks were strewn through the debris of the two-storey building, a semi-permanent structure made of concrete, iron sheeting and timber. 

"We have regrettably lost seven lives to this morning's incident that occurred  as the learners of class five to eight were starting their morning lessons," Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said at the scene of the accident

Magoha added that 64 children had been taken to hospital for treatment, with two of them having serious injuries. More than 600 students had check-ups at a nearby health centre.

The first floor of the school - which has been closed for safety checks -  collapsed, trapping the children below, local lawmaker John Kiarie told NTV Kenya.

The school was a private institution. Kiarie said the area had no public land on which to construct a proper public school.

He said the disaster highlighted the lack of "regulation of educational institutions, especially those in informal settlements... regulations that pertain to the construction and stability of educational institutions."

The cause was not immediately known but authorities have previously warned 30,000 to 40,000 buildings erected without approval in Nairobi are at risk of collapse.

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