As many as 164 apartments were in the building
National construction agency had previously condemned the building, authorities say
Hours after a residential building collapsed in a heap of rubble in Kenya’s capital, a man emerged holding up a baby wrapped in a pink blanket as the crowd erupted into cheers.
Another man followed him, carrying a toddler also pulled from the debris. Both children were rushed to waiting ambulances.
As the hours passed following Friday’s collapse of the seven-story building in Nairobi, rescuers heard sounds of hope as voices of trapped survivors called out, terrified but alive. Workers yanked chunks of concrete from where the building once stood, the cries spurring their efforts.
At least 12 people were killed and an additional 134 others suffered injuries, the Kenyan Red Cross said.
Others feared trapped
But others are feared trapped in the rubble of the building in Huruma, a residential area in northeast Nairobi. The aid organization said more than 60 people have been reported missing.
The building housed about 164 one-room apartments, but it’s not clear how many were occupied at the time of the collapse, Red Cross spokesman Abbas Gullet told CNN affiliate KTN.
Shoes, pots, photo albums
Rescuers frantically scoured through the debris overnight to find survivors.
“Don’t cry, we’re coming!” one man was heard yelling in Swahili, in video from the scene. “Let’s move faster,” one person implored others involved in the rescue effort.
Household items lay scattered as residents prayed and wept. Others carried debris using their bare hands.
“It’s heartbreaking … amongst the rubble you’ve got mattresses strewn around, children’s shoes, pots and pans, photo albums,” said Arnolda Shiundu, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross.
“Every time we move some rubble and we hear voices,” she said, “it gives the multiagencies that are here the morale to keep on fighting so that we can get as many people – as many survivors as possible.”
Kenya’s defense forces have taken control of the scene with help from the Kenya Police and various medical agencies.
The building collapsed during heavy rains. It’s unclear what caused it to fail, but residents told the Red Cross the bottom floors caved in first.
Kenya Police spokesman Charles Owino said it was too early to give definitive answers, but he expected preliminary information soon.
“It’s not a new building; it’s an old building, so hopefully the planning department is able to tell us,” he said.
“We don’t how how much the heavy rains could have caused the building to fall. There could be other technical reasons.”
Structure had been condemned
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta visited the scene Saturday morning. He asked the country’s disaster authorities to survey other houses in the area, determine if any were likely to collapse and move residents out, the National Police Service said.
He also ordered the owners of any unstable structures be arrested after it emerged the building that collapsed had previously been condemned by the National Construction Authority, the police statement said.
CNN’s Deborah Bloom, Briana Duggan, Roba Alhenawi and Bijan Hosseini contributed to this report.