Nine die as crane collapses at Nairobi’s Hurlingham area site

Friday, August 27th, 2021 00:00 |
The scene of accident at Hurlingham area in Nairobi, after bodies of the nine victims were removed. Photo/PD/BENARD ORWONGO 

Nine construction workers were confirmed dead yesterday after a crane collapsed at a construction site in Nairobi’s Hurlingham area.

 The incident is said to have occurred at around 12:45 pm, while the construction workers were busy dismantling one of the cranes at the site.

Eyewitnesses said the crane developed a mechanical problem before collapsing, crashing its human cargo roughly 70 metres to the ground. They all died on the spot.

Among the dead were two Chinese nationals, employees of the building’s contractor; Zhejiang Chengjiang Construction Africa Ltd and seven Kenyans.

The 14-storey building was to host hostels for Daystar University students.

Lost focus

In a statement, the Chinese firm said the incident occurred after a crane which was being commissioned, collapsed.

“We are working with relevant agencies to establish what led to this accident.

However, from our preliminary details, we have established that while decommissioning our tower crane, part of it unfortunately collapsed killing nine technicians, seven of whom were Kenyans and two Chinese nationality,” read the statement signed by the firm’s general manager-Zong Xudong.

“One technician is currently receiving medical care,” the statement further stated, noting that the construction was in the process of contacting families of the victims.

The firm said it has since sealed the construction site which is on Argwings Kodhek Road; adjacent to the Total Petrol Station barely 100 metres from the Hurlingham roundabout.

 Among the first to arrive at the scene of the tragedy were officers from the military police based at the nearby Department of Defence headquarters who cordoned the scene.

Minutes later, three ambulances from the Nairobi City County arrived and took away the bodies, some of them dismembered by the crane. 

Kilimani OCPD Andrew Mbogo led efforts to seal off the site and keep curious onlookers at bay.

“It is a sad day,  we have lost nine people who were working here. The report we have is that the crane lost focus before collapsing.

We have since sealed off the site and the area is now under the National Disaster Management Unit; which will undertake investigations into the incident,” he said.

“Everything was going on well, the construction workers were dismantling the crane since this building is now complete.

They had just started dismantling it from the top, when it lost balance and collapsed,” said Boniface Njuguna, a carpenter who witnessed the incident.

Njuguna said construction works at the building, which started almost two years ago was nearing completion when the tragedy struck.

“We suspect there was a fault with the crane because all along we have been working here and the building has a very strong foundation,’ added Njuguna.

Another witness who also spoke to People Daily said they heard screams and rushed to the scene only to find nine bodies on the ground, some with severed limbs.

 “It did not take even five minutes. It happened so suddenly. Some of the bodies  did not even have hands and they were bleeding profusely,” said Grace Ndungu, a food vendor based at the site.

She recalled her final moments with some of the victims, who she said were her regular customers: It is a sad day for me.

Most of the victims were my loyal customers. We had actually spoken in the morning and they had placed their different orders for lunch.” she said.

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