A massive gas explosion in Nairobi, Kenya, has resulted in the death of at least three people, including a child, and injured nearly 300 others. The incident occurred in the Embakasi district when a lorry carrying gas exploded, causing a large fireball. The blast damaged residential buildings, businesses, and cars. An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the explosion, and the area has been cordoned off.
The explosion occurred around 23:30 local time (20:30 GMT) and resulted in a large fire that was captured on video. The authorities have arrested a guard from the site in connection with the incident. The death toll may rise, according to Embakasi police chief Wesley Kimeto.
Around 271 people were taken to hospital, including at least 25 children. Nairobi’s Mayor Sakaja Johnson stated that many of the injured have been treated and discharged, but at least 39 have been transferred to other facilities due to critical injuries. Another 27 people were treated on-site for non-life-threatening injuries.
The government initially reported that the explosion happened at a gas plant where workers were refilling gas cylinders. However, it was later clarified that a truck had exploded in a parking yard. The fireball from the blast spread widely, hitting a clothing and textiles warehouse and causing it to burn down.
The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) stated that the gas plant was operating illegally. It had previously rejected three applications for construction permits for a storage and filling facility at the site due to safety concerns and high population density in the area. It remains unclear how the facility continued to operate despite this.
Government spokesperson Isaac Mwaura has called on the owners of the company involved to compensate the victims and take full responsibility for the explosion. He also criticized weak enforcement institutions and corruption which he said had led to the tragedy.
A search and rescue operation is ongoing to find any missing individuals or those who may have sought shelter elsewhere. The fire has been contained, but the explosion resulted in the complete burning of about 10 trucks within the compound and caused significant damage to nearby buildings.