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At least 45 die as dam bursts in flood-hit Kenya

At least 45 people lost their lives when a dam burst its banks near a town in Kenya’s Rift Valley, police said on Monday, as torrential rains and floods battered the country.

The disaster raises the total death toll over the March-May wet season in Kenya to more than 120 as heavier than usual rainfall pounds East Africa, compounded by the El Nino weather pattern, reports AFP.

Residents said the accident occurred in the dead of night near Mai Mahiu, in Nakuru county, sending water gushing down a hill and engulfing everything in its path.

The deluge cut off a road, uprooted trees, washed away homes and sent vehicles flying.

“Forty-five bodies have been recovered from that dam tragedy as at now, and the team on the ground is overwhelmed but the search is still ongoing,” a senior officer at Nakuru County police headquarters told AFP by phone.

Nakuru governor Susan Kihika had earlier put the death toll at 42.

“It’s a conservative estimate. There are still more in the mud, we are working on recovery,” she told AFP.

Rescuers were digging through the debris, using hoes and in some cases just their bare hands in a desperate search for survivors.

Stephen Njihia Njoroge, a local resident involved in the emergency efforts, said 12 people had been pulled to safety since 4:00 am (0100 GMT).

But for many, it was too late.

“We collected some of the bodies held by trees and we don’t know how many are under the mud,” he told AFP.