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Hundreds Injured And Three Killed After Gas Explosion In Kenya

Photograph: TimesNowWorld

At least three people died and more than 280 people injured because of a lorry loaded with liquid petroleum gas cylinders exploded and set off a late-night inferno that burned homes and warehouses in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. The injuries are so fatal, the death toll is expected to increase.

At least 24 people were critically injured, the Kenya Red Cross said, after a huge fireball erupted from the gas depot.

The lorry was parked inside a gas cylinder storage and filling site that had multiple applications to operate there rejected last year because it was too close to residential areas, Kenya’s Energy and Petroleum Regulatory. Some gas cylinders were thrown hundreds of metres, sparking several separate fires.

Authority said, raising questions about whether the site was operating illegally. “The government knew this liquid petroleum gas plant was existing in a residential area, but they did nothing,” resident Charles Mainge said. “They should make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

The government’s spokesperson, Isaac Mwaura, said many people were probably inside when the fire reached their homes in the Mradi area of the Nairobi neighbourhood of Embakasi.

Witnesses said they heard a sound they suspected to be gas leaking from inside the storage site before at least two explosions and a huge fireball lit up the night sky, which broke out at about 11.30pm on Thursday.

A flying gas cylinder set off a fire that burned down a nearby garment and textile warehouse, Mwaura said. Several other vehicles and businesses were damaged in the blaze.

However, Charles Mainge said people had expressed concerns over the gas site.

He also said there were at least two main explosions, the second of which knocked him and others off their feet after they left their houses to see what was happening.

One of the residents, Caroline Karanja, said police had moved people out and were preventing them from returning to their homes.

The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority said the gas storage site had made applications for construction permits to build a plant and operate there in March, June, and July last year.

All applications were rejected because they “did not meet the set criteria for an LPG [liquid petroleum gas] storage and filling plant in that area”, the authority said in a statement Friday. “The main reason for the rejection was failure of the designs to meet the safety distances stipulated.”

One of the stipulations was that the gas business submit a risk assessment called a “blast profile”, which would estimate how surrounding areas would be affected in the event of an explosion, the regulatory authority said. The gas storage business never submitted those assessments, it said.

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