Gas truck explosion torches Kenya depot, killing three

Humphrey Malalo and Thomas Mukoya |

Rescuers are on the scene after an explosion and fire in Nairobi, Kenya.
Rescuers are on the scene after an explosion and fire in Nairobi, Kenya.

A gas truck has exploded in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, sending a huge fireball into the night sky and causing a blaze that killed at least three people and injured 300, authorities and first responders say.

Residents in a nearby building screamed as a column of flame shot high into the air just before midnight on Friday, briefly forming a mushroom cloud, video posted on social media and verified by Reuters showed.

The government said three people had died in the explosion at a gas refilling plant and 280 more were being treated at hospitals around Nairobi.

The Kenyan Red Cross said others were being treated at a triage point.

The fire engulfed a nearby textile and garment warehouse, while damaging several vehicles and commercial and residential properties, the government said.

Smoke after an explosion at a gas refilling plant in Nairobi, Kenya
The fire sent smoke and flames high into the air and damaged nearby vehicles and buildings. (EPA PHOTO)

“The fire caught up with me from almost one kilometre away as I was escaping,” survivor Edwin Machio told Reuters.

“The flames from the explosion knocked me down and burnt me on my neck,” he added, taking off his shirt to show burnt flesh on his shoulders and upper arms.

A Reuters picture from the scene of the fire showed one body lying on the ground, covered with a blanket, while smoke billowed from several burning houses nearby.

Kenya’s Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) said last year it had rejected three applications for construction permits for a Liquefied Petroleum Gas storage and refilling plant at the site of the explosion because of the high population density around it.

EPRA said it had asked the applicant to submit a risk assessment “indicating the radiation blast profiles in the unfortunate case of an explosion” but that this was never done.

It was not immediately clear who owned the site.