NAIROBI, Kenya — A dam burst in western Kenya, destroying villages and killing at least 32 people, officials said Thursday, after weeks of heavy rains that had brought flooding and other damage across the region.
He visited two villages “that were swept away,” he wrote later. “We assure residents that we are doing our best to evacuate affected families to safety and assist victims get medical attention.”
Thirty-two people were confirmed dead, 42 others were treated and discharged from hospitals, and a further four remained hospitalized, Fred Matiang’i, Kenya’s secretary for the interior, said at a news conference Thursday. Officials said that thousands of people had been displaced.
The casualty figures rose repeatedly Thursday as search and rescue missions continued, and officials cautioned that it could be some time before they knew the full toll.
The flooding struck at about 9 p.m. Wednesday in and around Solai, a cluster of villages about 110 miles northwest of the capital, Nairobi. Local reports said the failed structure was a privately owned earthen dam on a large farm.
Samuel Gachobe, who represents the area in Parliament, said the government was trying to identify the missing, and was providing food, blankets, bedding and medical care to people who had fled. A command center was set up to coordinate aid and rescue efforts, he said in a statement.
Last week, the Red Cross reported that more than a month of torrential rain had killed about 100 people and displaced about 260,000 in Kenya, that about 100,000 people had been reported displaced in Somalia and that there had been flooding in Ethiopia and Rwanda, as well. The region faced a drought last year.
The flooding is the worst in Kenya since 2012, said Marshal Mukuvare, the regional disaster management delegate for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.