Kenya: Death Toll Rises to Six in Embakasi Gas Explosion As Nema Official Detained

Nairobi — The tragic aftermath of the Embakasi gas explosion in has seen the death toll climb to six as three more victims succumbed to their burns while undergoing treatment at Kenyatta National Hospital.

Dozens of other victims remain hospitalized with serious burns in various medical facilities across the city, including at least 20 individuals referred to KNH due to the severity of their injuries.

“We regret to report that three more individuals have succumbed to their injuries raising the death toll from the Embakasi Fire incident to six,” said Government Spokesman Isaac Mwaura in a statement issued on Monday.

Most of the victims are admitted to KNH, Mama Lucy Hospital and Mbagathi Hospitals.

And following a directive by President William Ruto on the arrest and prosecution of officials who issued licences to the gas plant to operate, police say one official has been arrested.

The official, a director at the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), was arrested on Sunday and is assisting police with investigations.

Nairobi Police Commander Adamson Bungei has confirmed the arrest and reiterated the commitment to apprehending all individuals involved.

“We have one of the officials in custody and the search for more including the owners of this plant is ongoing,” he said.”

He said police are pursuing at least seven suspects connected to the explosion, including Derick Kimathi, the owner of the illegal gas filling plant, Steve Kioko (Kimathi’s partner), and the truck driver suspected of causing the explosion. The status of the driver, whether he escaped or perished in the incident, remains unconfirmed.

As part of the ongoing investigation into the explosion and the resulting fatalities, authorities plan to conduct autopsies on the victims, and those found culpable may face charges related to murder.

The victims and their families are hoping for compensation from both the owners of the yard where the explosion occurred and the government.

Over 300 people sustained injuries in the incident that occurred Thursday night and are currently receiving medical treatment at various hospitals throughout the city.

At the weekend, Wandugi Kirathe addressed a press conference saying owners of the plant were cooperating with police, denying claims that they had gone into hiding.

He refutes claims that the site of the incident was an illegal gas plant, contending that it was a garage for several years. However, police involved in the case have raised suspicions about the garage, emphasizing that it specialized in repairing trucks transporting Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).

Kimathi operates in the LPG transportation business and had previously submitted applications to the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) for a license to operate a gas-filling plant in the area. These applications were rejected last year on the grounds that the site was unsuitable due to its proximity to the public.

Residents have claimed that the location was, in fact, an illegal gas filling plant that offered cheaper gas, and the government has responded to the incident by implementing a series of measures to enhance compliance in the sector.

These measures include conducting fresh risk assessments for all LPG plants, closing non-compliant sites, demolishing illegal facilities, launching a government LPG growth strategy, and strengthening the LPG data verification framework, among others.

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