15 dead, 70 injured in pre-dawn fire in Kenya’s Gikomba market

Fifteen people, including four children, were killed and at least 70 others injured in a predawn fire (Pictured – @KenyaRedCross/Twitter) that engulfed one section of Gikomba market in Nairobi, Kenya, on Thursday, local reports said.

President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered an investigation and said the government owes the victims and the people of Nairobi a clear and credible plan to end such accidents.

The national government and Nairobi County will review the emergency services and disaster preparedness, he said.

Six bodies have been recovered from the market while nine more stuck in an adjacent building, which also caught fire, are yet to be retrieved.

Many of the victims died after inhaling poisonous fumes while desperately trying to salvage their property.

Property worth millions of shillings was destroyed in the blaze which started around 2.30 am from a section of the market that deals with timber and second-hand clothes near Kamukunji.

Most of the injured have been admitted to Kenyatta National Hospital. Among them are 17 children. Dozens of survivors with severe burns are being treated in the intensive care unit of the hospital. Some 28 people with minor injuries were discharged after treatment.

Police are yet to establish the cause of the fire. The market has witnessed eight fires between 2012 and 2018. Police investigations into the pre-dawn fire on June 23, 2015 had pointed to arson.

Media reports have blamed the frequent fires at the market on numerous stalls blocking roads and underground water points.

Electric connection in the market also poses fire risk since several stalls share a single connection from the main power point.

Gikomba is one of the largest open-air markets in the city and Kenyans shop there for second-hand clothes, shoes and vegetables.