In Nairobi, Kenya, a gas explosion rocked the Embakasi district, claiming the lives of at least three people and leaving nearly 300 injured. The happened on the night of February 2, 2024, when a truck loaded with gas cylinders exploded, a massive fireball that engulfed homes and warehouses in its path.
At around 11:30 p.m, the Embakasi neighborhood was by the deafening explosion that originated from a lorry carrying gas cylinders.
The fireball spread rapidly, creating panic as residents scrambled to escape the inferno. Video footage captured the magnitude of the blast, showing a fireball and billowing smoke against the Nairobi skyline.
The explosion caused damage to homes and vehicles, with reports of a clothing and textiles warehouse being consumed by the flames.
At least three confirmed deaths, including a child, and nearly 300 individuals suffering from various degrees of injuries.
The injured were rushed to hospitals across Nairobi, with authorities mobilizing resources for emergency medical assistance.
Nairobi’s Mayor Sakaja Johnson reported that many of the injured had been treated and discharged, but a huge number remained hospitalized, including 39 with serious injuries.
The Kenyan government, in collaboration with local authorities, responded to the emergency by cordoning off the affected area and initiating rescue operations.
A command center was established to coordinate efforts, addressing the need for minimal disruptions to facilitate rescue missions.
The cause of the explosion is under investigation, with reports suggesting that the gas truck exploded in its parking yard rather than at a gas plant, as stated by the government. One individual has been arrested in connection with the incident.
The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) revealed that the gas plant involved in the explosion was operating illegally.
EPRA stated that three construction permit applications for a storage and filling facility at the site had been rejected due to safety concerns and failure to meet required standards.
Witnesses reported seeing objects, including gas cylinders and a shipping container, propelled into the air by the force of the explosion.
Jackline Karimi, who suffered burns in the incident, recounted the horror of witnessing a woman on fire while everyone around was trying to escape.
Residential houses in the neighborhood were damaged and also caught fire, displacing residents. Small and medium-sized businesses faced destruction, with reports of at least 10 trucks being completely burned inside the compound where the explosion occurred.
In 2018, a blaze at Nairobi’s Gikomba market claimed 15 lives and injured over 70 individuals. The recurrence of such incidents shows concerns about safety standards and enforcement in densely populated urban areas.
Government spokesman Isaac Mwaura acknowledged the impact of the fireball, addressing the damage to vehicles, commercial properties, and residential houses.
Magdalene Kerubo, a resident, criticized the government for allowing gas plants to operate in residential areas, stating, “Why do we have gas plants in the middle of estates? Our government is so irresponsible.”