A gas explosion at an unlicensed cooking gas filling plant in Kenya’s capital on Thursday night killed at least three people and injured 280 others, according to authorities in the East African country.
The blaze started when a truck carrying gas blew up in Nairobi’s Embakasi district at about 11:30 p.m. local time, “igniting a huge ball of fire that spread widely,” government spokesperson Isaac Maigua Mwaura said in a social media post.
Residential buildings, businesses and cars were damaged in the blast and subsequent inferno, Mwaura said.
“As a result, three fellow Kenyans […] have regrettably lost their lives while being attended [to] at the Nairobi West Hospital,” Mwaura said.
“In addition, by now, 280 other fellow Kenyans were injured by the fire and have since been rushed to various hospitals,” he added.
“Psychosocial counselling is being offered to victims who have experienced trauma.”
One survivor described how he fled desperately from the scene. “The fire caught up with me from almost one kilometer away as I was escaping,” Edwin Machio told Reuters.
“The flames from the explosion knocked me down and burnt me on my neck,” he added, showing the Reuters reporter his injuries.
The Kenya Red Cross said it had evacuated 271 people to hospitals around Nairobi and was “tirelessly battling the flames” alongside other agencies.
A command center has been set up at the scene to coordinate rescue operations and other intervention efforts, spokesperson Mwaura said, adding the scene was now secured.
“Kenyans are hereby advised to keep off the cordoned area in order to allow the rescue mission to be carried out (with) minimal disruptions,” he said.
Kenya’s Energy and Petroleum Regulation Authority (EPRA) said Friday that the explosion occurred at an unlicensed cooking gas filling plant.
The EPRA said it had received applications for construction permits for a Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) storage and filling plant at the site in March, June and July in 2023, but all applications were rejected as they did not meet the criteria for a plant in that area.
The applications were rejected due to a “failure of the designs to meet the safety distances stipulated in the Kenya Standard,” it said in a statement adding that it had noted the high population density around the proposed site.