At least 20 killed after dam bursts in Kenya's Rift Valley

(AFP Photo)

At least 20 people died after a dam burst near a populated area in southern Kenya following heavy rains, police said Thursday.

The incident in Solai, near the Rift Valley city of Nakuru, occurred Wednesday evening, regional police chief Gideon Kibunjah told AFP by telephone, adding that 36 people had been hospitalized.

Police spokesman Joseph Kioko said water burst through the banks of the Patel Dam in Solai, Nakuru County, sweeping away hundreds of homes in the neighborhood, including those on the expansive Nyakinyua Farm, which borders the water reservoir. The incident raises the already high death toll in Kenya from floods due to seasonal rain.

"The water has caused huge destruction of both life and property. The extent of the damage has yet to be ascertained," Lee Kinyajui, the governor of Nakuru, said in a statement.

Kinyanjui assured residents that "we will do our best to take affected families to safety and help them get medical attention."

Private television station KTN News said that 20 bodies had been recovered from the scene so far.

Kenya Red Cross said on Twitter it had rescued 39 people so far.

Kenya, like other countries in East Africa, has experienced heavy rain over the past two months. The government said on Wednesday the rain had killed 132 people and displaced 222,456 in 32 counties since March.

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