Solai killer dam was illegal even as death toll reaches 44

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"Majority are women and children who could not have been able to run fast, and the elderly", said a senior police officer at the scene, the Nation reported.

Most people were asleep in their informal homes surrounding the dam when the tragedy occurred, and their houses were swept away.

Rift Valley regional manager Simon Wang'ombe said Warma officials had toured the farm severally and had asked the owner to fix one of the dams.

A senior manager at the firm, Vinod Jayakumar, denied that the dams were not licensed and blamed long torrential rains for the disaster. The farm has existed for nearly 60 years and the dam which collapsed has been there for nearly 20 years. "It is not the right time to give maligning guesses and brand the dam illegal just because this disaster has happened", the manager said.

In Nairobi, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Noordin Haji, directed the police to investigate the matter, identify those deemed culpable, and hand in a file to him in the next 14 days.

The exercise to drain water out of Marigu and Milmet dams in the vast farm caused panic among residents as reports of another dam bursting spread like wild fire.

According to Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper, the wall of water was about a metre-and-a-half high, and 500m wide.

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Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang visited the school on Wednesday afternoon to access the damage caused by the tragedy and found classrooms flooded. She said her daughter had two children aged six and four who were swept away by the water on Wednesday night.

"I have gone to the two mortuaries, but I have not seen any of the bodies".

Ngugi Njoroge, one of dozens receiving treatment for his injuries, told reporters from his hospital bed he was separated from his family. "I have been able to identify my father, but I'm yet to find the body my nephew", she said. "I was carried away by the water but I was lucky as I clung to a tree until the water subsided".

The tragedy saw more than 2, 500 others displaced as a search for missing persons entered the third day. Another 44 were confirmed to have died, he added.

Nakuru County Governor Lee Kinyanjui said water from one of the other dams will be discharged to avoid a disaster and that a village near that dam will be evacuated.

However, as the country grapples with the heavy rains, the Meteorological Department has painted a gloomy picture that shows the East African nation could face more crisis.

A government statement released earlier this week had put the number of people displaced by floods in Kenya at 222,456, a number that is likely to increase following the thousands who have been left homeless in Nakuru County.