Gikomba fire leaves 15 people dead, 70 injured

Gikomba fire leaves 15 people dead, 70 injured

15 people died and 70 others sustained serious burn injuries after fire razed Gikomba market in Nairobi.

Nine bodies discovered inside a residential building are yet to be retrieved while six have been moved to City Mortuary.

“At 2.30am fire broke out inside a timber shop near the Nairobi River. Four children who were rushed to Kenyatta National Hospital died on arrival,” Nairobi Regional Commissioner William Kang’ethe Thuku said.

The fire had been contained at 4am but broke out a second time and the commissioner has warned that the market is now a no-go zone.

Those injured are being treated at KNH and members of the public have been urged to report any missing family members to the nearest police station.

“Five people sustained burns above 30 percent and are in the ICU. 24 have been treated and discharged while 41 are still admitted,” acting KNH chief executive Thomas Mutie said.

Firefighters at Gikomba market. Photo/ NJOROGE MAINAFirefighters at Gikomba market. Photo/ NJOROGE MAINA

He noted that movement to wards has been restricted to avoid infections but relatives can get information on their kin at the hospital’s  information center.

On Thursday morning, flames could still be seen raging from the building where the nine bodies had been spotted.

A team of firefighters, police and officials from the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC), Kenya Red Cross and St. John’s Ambulance are still at the scene.

Gikomba market reduced to ashes. Photo/WILKISTA NYABWAGikomba market reduced to ashes. Photo/WILKISTA NYABWA

Gikomba Market located in Majengo area is mostly known for its traders who sell second-hand clothes.

This is not the first time that the market stalls have been razed to the ground and the frequent occurrence of such incidents has raised eyebrows in different quarters.

Some have even labeled it the ‘annual Gikomba Market Fire’.

Two years ago, after a similar inferno destroyed property worth millions, Kamukunji MP Yusuf Hassan alleged that the incidents were an attempt to edge out traders from the land.

“I think it is not purely accidental. We have too many fires here. There are people responsible for them and we must find out who they are and bring them to book,” he told journalists.

A year later, another fire broke out and this time round President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered that investigations be carried out to establish the cause.

He waded into the raging debate over Gikomba Market fire after two incidents occurred within a month of each other.

Additional reporting by Wilkista Nyabwa