NAIROBI, KENYA - Part of a school building collapsed in central Nairobi Monday, killing at least seven children. Dozens more were injured.
What was supposed to be an ordinary day at Precious Talent Top School was anything but as a wing of the two-story building collapsed. Reports say the first floor of the building collapsed on children on the ground level. Images of rescue workers sifting through concrete slabs and metal sheeting to look for victims were broadcast on television.
Education Minister George Magoha updated the nation on the incident.
“We have regrettably lost seven young lives to this morning's incident that occurred at around 8 a.m. as learners class Five-to-Eight were starting their morning lessons. Sixty-four learners are admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital. Of these, 62 have soft tissue injuries while two require more attention,” he said.
In Kenya's school system, classes Five-to-Eight cover children between the ages of 10 and 14.
Stephen Odhiambo says two of his children were at the school. He was among the first responders.
“I was here in the morning around seven. I tried to rescue the children including my daughter. We went home with my daughter after 20 minutes. She started crying; her head hurts. I took her to a dispensary near my home,” he said.
Odhiambo says his daughter was later transferred to a larger hospital for further treatment.
One parent at the main hospital said staff have not given them an update on the injured children.
The parent said, “By 8 I was in the hospital, they gave the child a number, he was in the third stretcher. Since then I don’t know what is going on, whether he is receiving treatment. They told us they forwarded of all the names of the students in the hospital to the information center. I couldn't find the name of my child. They chased us away, saying the children will be treated. I am here. I don’t know what is happening.”
It is not clear why the accident happened, although some residents are blaming shoddy construction.
It is being reported that cement was only used in the foundation of the building.
Kenya has witnessed building collapses in the past. In 2016, a similar incident claimed the lives of more than 40 people.
Contractors have been accused of not following regulations when constructing such buildings.
Meanwhile, the government has closed the school for four days, with officials saying they want to make sure the rest of the structure is safe before students are readmitted.