19 dead, scores hurt in Kenya heavy rains

COLLAPSE: Dozens of people are feared trapped or dead after this six-story building collapsed in Nairobi, Kenya (Reuters)
Updated 30 April 2016
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19 dead, scores hurt in Kenya heavy rains

NAIROBI: A six-story residential building collapsed in heavy rain in Nairobi, killing 12 people and injuring scores, Kenyan officials said Saturday.
Rescuers in the Kenyan capital made desperate efforts to free survivors including a woman and child trapped in the building.
Seven other people died in floods elsewhere in Nairobi, including four killed when a wall collapsed.
“Ten bodies have been recovered, and we have 80 people who have been treated and discharged from hospital,” Interior Minister Joseph Nkaissery told reporters amid the wreckage of the building.
“There is a lady in the building and her child who are alive, and all efforts are being made to rescue them, as well as other people still believed to be in the building,” Nkaissery said.
The Kenya Red Cross said 150 building units and adjacent homes were affected. Rescuers said they could hear voices of five people trapped in the building and said it will be difficult to remove the concrete slabs using heavy machinery without endangering those stuck in the rubbled, said nominated legislator Johnson Sakaja.
Live TV footage showed the National Youth Service and firefighters removing stones by hand and a crowd cheering as a child was removed from the rubble. President Uhuru Kenyatta visited the scene.
Hours-long traffic jams caused by flooded roads delayed rescue teams trying to reach the scene, said Japheth Koome, Nairobi’s police chief said. The 134 injured were rescued from the rubble, Koome said. Kenya is in the midst of its April-May rainy season.
Jacob Kiruma, who said he lived in the house adjacent to the one that collapsed, said the building was constructed “shoddily.” The structure had been built in less than five months and the 126 single rooms were quickly occupied at a rent of $35 a month, Kiruma said.
Area legislator Stephen Kariuki said this was the second building to collapse in a year. He blamed the county government of failing to follow through with demolitions of buildings that were identified as unfit for human habitation.
Taking advantage of a high demand for housing in Nairobi, some property developers bypass building regulations to cut costs and maximize profits.
President Kenyatta last year ordered an audit of all the buildings in the country to see if they are up to code after eight buildings collapsed, killing at least 15 people. The report from the audit by the National Construction Authority found that 58 percent of buildings in the capital were unfit to live in. The majority of Nairobi’s 4 million people live in low-income areas or slums.
The heavy rains have caused other fatalities. Four people died when a wall collapsed Friday in the affluent Hurlingham area and two people drowned when they were swept away by flood waters in the capital’s industrial area, said Nairobi police chief Koome.
President Uhuru Kenyatta visited the wreck of the six-story building on Saturday, where 10 people perished after concrete floors collapsed down on top of each other during torrential rainstorms on Friday.
The two-year-old building, home to more than over 150 families, had been condemned by building authorities but the order had been ignored.
But access for rescuers with larger machinery has been made difficult by the narrow and crowded streets.
One survivor was pulled from the huge pile of debris shortly after dawn, Kenya Red Cross said, some 10 hours after the building collapsed Friday night.
Pictures broadcast by local media showed soldiers, policemen and civilians searching through the rubble.
Kenyatta “braved the rainy and chilly weather” to visit densely-populated and poor Huruma neighborhood, a statement from the presidency said.
He ordered police “take immediate action to identify and arrest owners of buildings who have ignored directives by the National Construction Authority,” it said.


India holds ‘Super Tuesday’ vote

Indian National Congress party president Rahul Gandhi (C) gestures after laying a wreath to pay tribute on the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre at the Jallianwala Bagh martyrs memorial in Amritsar on April 13, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 12 min 33 sec ago
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India holds ‘Super Tuesday’ vote

  • Rahul Gandhi is standing in Wayanad in Kerala state, taking a risk as south India is considered a stronghold of regional parties
  • This election is seen as a referendum on his five-year rule — which has seen impressive economic growth but not the jobs that the BJP promised

AHMEDABAD, India: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be among tens of millions of people to cast ballots as India holds a ‘Super Tuesday’ of voting in its marathon election.
The 117 seats to be decided will be the biggest number of any of the seven rounds of the election being held over six weeks.
Some 190 million voters in 15 states will be eligible to take part, and candidates on the ballot will include Modi’s arch-rival Rahul Gandhi, head of the opposition Congress party.
Modi, leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, will vote in his home state of Gujarat. He ruled the western state for over a decade before leading the party to national power in a 2014 landslide.
This election is seen as a referendum on his five-year rule — which has seen impressive economic growth but not the jobs that the BJP promised.
Gujarat sends 26 lawmakers to the Indian parliament and the right-wing BJP won all of those seats in 2014.
Modi will vote in the constituency where his close associate Amit Shah, the BJP president and key powerbroker, is contesting his maiden election.
Gandhi is standing in Wayanad in Kerala state, taking a risk as south India is considered a stronghold of regional parties.
The opposition party leader says contesting Wayanad is a sign of his commitment to southern India. His opponents say it shows he fears defeat in his traditional seat in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
Under Indian election law, candidates can contest two seats, though they can only keep one if they win both. Gandhi is also on the ballot for Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.

Turnout was robust in the first two rounds of voting, on April 11 and 18, with around 70 percent of eligible voters taking part.
Heavy security has been put in place for voting, though violence has still been reported, with Maoist rebels carrying out bomb and shooting attacks.
Authorities have also bolstered security in the restive Kashmir valley ahead of voting on Tuesday in the region considered a hotbed of anti-Indian sentiment.
Election results are to be released on May 23 and analysts say Modi is not expected to see a repeat of the BJP’s 2014 performance, when they won 282 seats.
Modi has capitalized on nationalist fervor that followed India’s air strikes on Pakistan in February in a dispute over Kashmir.
India accused its neighbor of harboring a militant group that claimed a deadly suicide bombing in Kashmir.
The fractured opposition, led by Congress, has sought to attack the government over employment, the economy and a debt crisis for Indian farmers.