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Kenya floods death toll nears 170 as president vows help for his country's "victims of climate change"

Nairobi — Kenyan President William Ruto convened a special cabinet meeting Tuesday to discuss measures to tackle deadly floods that have killed nearly 170 people and displaced 185,000 others since March, his office said. Heavier than usual monsoon rains, compounded by the El Nino weather pattern, have devastated the East African country, along with neighboring Tanzania, engulfing villages and threatening to unleash even more damage in the weeks to come.

In the worst single incident, which killed nearly 50 villagers, a makeshift dam burst in the Rift Valley region before dawn on Monday, sending torrents of mud and water gushing down a hill and swallowing everything in its path. It was the deadliest incident episode in the country since the start of the rainy season.

So far, 169 people have died in flood-related disasters, according to government data.

Search and rescue efforts continue after the collapse of the Old Kijabe Dam in Kenya
Bodies are removed from the rubble as evacuation and search and rescue efforts continue in the flood-affected Mai Mahiu and Naivasha regions in Kenya, April 30, 2024. Gerald Anderson/Anadolu/Getty

The cabinet will "discuss additional measures" to address the crisis, Ruto said Monday on the sidelines of a summit of African leaders and the World Bank in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

"My government is going to... make sure that citizens who are victims of climate change, who today are suffering floods, they are suffering mudslides, are looked after," he said.

The Rift Valley deluge cut off a road, uprooted trees and washed away homes and vehicles, devastating the village of Kamuchiri in Nakuru county.

Forty-seven people were killed, Nakuru County health minister Jacqueline Osoro told AFP on Tuesday.

"This morning we lost one person who was in the HDU (high dependency unit), so we've moved at 47 deaths," she said, adding that the toll could increase as 76 people were still feared missing.

Nakuru governor Susan Kihika said 110 people were being treated in hospital.

Opposition politicians and lobby groups have accused the government of being unprepared and slow to react despite weather warnings, demanding that it declare a national disaster.

Dam burst in Kenya leaves at least 42 dead
Search and rescue and evacuation efforts continue at Mai Mahiu and Naivasha districts after a dam burst left at least 47 people dead in Nakuru County, Kenya, April 29, 2024. Gerald Anderson/Anadolu/Getty

Kenya's main opposition leader Raila Odinga said Tuesday that authorities had failed to make "advance contingency plans" for the extreme weather.

"The government has been talking big on climate change, yet when the menace comes in full force, we have been caught unprepared," he said. "We have therefore been reduced to planning, searching and rescuing at the same time."

The weather has also left a trail of destruction in neighboring Tanzania, where at least 155 people have been killed in flooding and landslides.

In Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, flooding claimed the lives of four people on Monday, according to the Fire and Disaster Risk Management Commission.

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