Floods kill 86 in Kenya

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Unseasonal downpours blamed by experts on the El Nino weather phenomenon are hammering Kenya's agriculture and tourism-based economy and striking further blows to the battered infrastructure.

Police say floods caused by the heavy rain have killed at least 86 people and caused the worst damage in Kenya's recent history. The Sunday Standard newspaper put the toll at 91.

The Kenya Television Network (KTN) said schools around the north-eastern town of Garissa were closed due to floods. The town was running short of food because trucks bringing in stocks were unable to complete the journey, it said.

KTN also showed footage from the Kano plains of western Kenya, where it said floods had forced hundreds of peasants to flee their grass-thatched houses and take refuge in schools and churches.

Police reported more bridges and roads damaged in Meru and other smaller centres in eastern Kenya - which has been worst affected by the torrential rains. They said the damage appeared to be the worst in the country's recent history.

In the capital Nairobi, the Eastlands district where a third of the city's 2 million population live, was without fresh water yesterday after a mains pipe snapped into two, apparently after heavy rains exposed it.

Kenya's vital link road between Nairobi and the port of Mombasa was open yesterday but heavy rains created one of the biggest traffic jams East Africa has ever seen.

- Reuters, Nairobi