Nearly 50 missing in Kenya blaze

Forty-seven people are missing and an unknown number died when fire destroyed a supermarket in downtown Nairobi two days ago, the Kenya Red Cross and witnesses said today.

The blaze gutted a large store of Nakumatt, the east African nation's leading supermarket chain, on Wednesday afternoon when shoppers and staff were inside, but rescuers did not know at the time how many people had died.



Local media said the capital's fire-fighting service was inadequate and firefighters had arrived at the scene too late and in too small numbers, and were hindered by fears that the building might collapse.



Reporters at the scene today said rescuers were finding charred corpses in the embers of the still-smouldering store.



Nation media house said at least 10 bodies had been found, but Reuters reporters and rescuers could not verify that.



The Red Cross confirmed only one death.



"One man died from injuries when he jumped from the second floor of the building," spokesman Titus Mung'ou said, adding that the number of missing stood at 47 by mid-morning.



Several people leapt from the building while it blazed for hours on Wednesday, witnesses said. Some spoke of people trapped and screaming behind locked doors.



"I came running because I knew my mum was shopping there," Ishmael Abdul Mohamed told Reuters amid a knot of angry people watching the rescue operation today.



"They ordered all doors closed, no one to enter or leave. I was trying to break the window with a dustbin because my mum and my sister were trapped inside but someone cocked a gun at me."









Nakumatt managers denied any doors were locked at the time of the blaze during a news conference today.



A company spokeswoman, Catherine Karanja, could not give an overall death toll but said five of 103 staff had not been located. "We are still investigating the cause," she said.



Nakumatt said in a statement its store "was fully fire safety compliant and had been installed with advanced fire/smoke detectors."



One survivor, Jeremiah Omoyo, said he had jumped off the roof to escape. "The crowd below was telling us to jump," the Nakumatt employee told the local Standard newspaper.



"I jumped, but cannot tell what happened to the others who were screaming behind me," said Omoyo, who hurt his leg.



Kenyan media berated the emergency response as slow and inadequate. "A city like Nairobi with an estimated population of three million is served by one fire station situated close to the central business district where vehicular and pedestrian congestion is particularly heavy," the Daily Nation said.



"It is fair to say that ours is a modern city with an 18th century fire-fighting infrastructure."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people Ex-wife of John Lennon has died at her home in Spain
News
Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Glasgow on Wednesday; he says education is his top priority
peopleNick Clegg remains optimistic despite dismal Lib Dem poll ratings
Sport
Chelsea
football
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police