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Gikomba fire tragedy death toll rises to 16

Robin Obino and WanguI Githugo

Another victim of the Gikomba fire tragedy succumbed to injuries Friday, bringing the death toll to 16. Kenyatta National Hospital acting chief executive officer Thomas Mutie said 27 people who had been taken to the facility following Thursday morning inferno had been discharged.

“We received a total of 74 casualties. Some of them were treated and discharged. We have since discharged some. Forty-seven more are still undergoing treatment and will be discharged as soon as their condition stabilises,” he said, adding: “Unfortunately, we lost another person this morning (Friday). The main challenge is that most of the victims had inhaled smoke but in terms of burns the highest is 36 per cent.”

Health Cabinet secretary Sicily Kariuki confirmed that the government would offset the victims’ hospital bills. She spoke even as traders and residents of Gikomba struggled to pick up the pieces after the tragic incident.

A rescue team comprising National Disaster Management Unit (NDMU), the Red Cross Society and Nairobi County government officers was still on site Friday assisting the affected and distributing humanitarian aid.

NDMU deputy director Pius Masai said the process of clearing the burnt debris would continue until all residents are accounted for.

“This is a long process but we will be on site until every individual has been accounted for and the area is cleared before any re-construction can take place. We ask for patience as the mission continues,” said Masai.

At KNH, Kariuki said majority of the victims are registered with National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF). The government will foot the bill for those who are covered by NHIF.

 “We will settle the bill of those that do not have NHIF card and also give them other support to see how they can pick up their lives,” she said.

Kariuki, who visited the patients at the facility Friday, appealed to Kenyans to donate blood as well as give any other help that the victims may be in need of.

Meanwhile, the identification process of the bodies of those who perished will start any time soon.This follows a stakeholders’ meeting Friday that brought together Government Chemist officials and pathologists.

“The process has been delayed as the families are still traumatised. We are putting in place modalities for counselling before we can commence the exercise,” said an official at the Chiromo mortuary, where the bodies are being preserved.

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