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Scores succumbed ‘to smoke poisoning’

Robin Obino @obinorobin

Most of the victims of the Thursday morning fire died of suffocation after inhaling poisonous gases emanating from burning property, Nairobi police regional Commander Kangethe Thuku (pictured) said yesterday.

Some of those rushed to the hospital are nursing fractures sustained from jumping off floors of the five-storey buildings, he added. “We don’t want to rule out arson. Let’s not speculate at this time,” he said, adding that investigations had been launched to establish the cause of the 2.30am inferno.

He said the government will pay the medical bills of all the victims. The fire that started at a timber section near Kamukunji before spreading to the other parts of the market, destroyed merchandise and property worth millions of shillings. St Johns Ambulance said they had evacuated more than 50 people from the area rushing them to Kenyatta National Hospital as early as 3am.

The owner of the storey buildings, and who requested anonymity, told People Daily he counted at least five bodies that had been burned beyond recognition.

Eleven of his tenants died in the inferno. “I received a distress call from one of my tenants at around 2am this morning (Thursday). I arrived and found fire all over the place. It was unbearable,” he said, adding that it was likely the watchman locked the gate fearing that burglars would take advantage of the commotion to loot from the distraught tenants.

Residents said they had a hard time salvaging property from their houses, as power was disconnected, leaving them in darkness.

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