7 dead, more than 120 rescued from collapsed building in Kenya
NAIROBI, Kenya – (CNN) Hours after a building collapsed in a heap in Kenya, rescuers heard sounds of hope. Voices of some trapped survivors called out from beneath the rubble, terrified but alive.
As rescuers yanked chunks of concrete from where the seven-story building once stood in Nairobi, the cries spurred their efforts.
“Don’t cry, we’re coming!” one man can be heard yelling in Swahili, in video from the scene. The building collapsed Friday night.
“Let’s move faster,” one person implored others involved in the rescue effort.
Rescuers have pulled 128 people from the wreckage, said Charles Owino, a spokesman for the Kenya Police. But many more people are feared trapped in the rubble of the building in Huruma area, a residential area in northeast Nairobi.
Household items lay scattered as residents prayed and wept. Others carried debris using their bare hands.
“It’s heartbreaking … amongst the rubble you’ve got mattresses strewn around, children’s shoes, pots and pans, photo albums,” said Arnolda Shiundu, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross.
“Every time we move some rubble and we hear voices,” she said, “it gives the multiagencies that are here the morale to keep on fighting so that we can get as many people — as many survivors as possible.”
Kenya’s defense forces have taken control of the scene with help from the Kenya Police and various medical agencies, such as the Red Cross, Shiundu said.
Kenyan authorities said rescuers are hopeful they will save the lives of many more people.
“So far we have rescued 128 people alive and we have also confirmed seven people dead,” said Owino, the police spokesman. “We are still on the scene and we are removing the debris and we pray that we will be able to rescue more.”
The Red Cross team at the scene described “a glimmer of hope” as those trapped communicated with them.
” We’ve been able to make contact with a couple of survivors,” Shiundu said.
“Initially, there were the two individuals who were speaking and able to tell us they were aware of other survivors who were around them.”
The building collapsed during heavy rains. It is unclear what caused it to fail, but residents told the Red Cross the bottom floors caved in first.
Owino said it was too early to give definitive answers, but he expected preliminary information soon. All the floors were occupied, he said.
“It’s not a new building; it’s an old building, so hopefully the planning department is able to tell us,” he said.
“We don’t how how much the heavy rains could have caused the building to fall. There could be other technical reasons.”
Residents joined the military and Red Cross officials in the search for survivors. With each rescue, the crowd burst into applause.
Video showed two men carrying children, one holding up a baby dressed in pink as the crowd cheered and emergency workers guided them to an ambulance.
Local residents and other volunteers were coming from all parts of the city, asking how they could help, officials said.