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52 Killed as Truck Ploughs into 8 Vehicles, Motorcycles and Pedestrians in Kenya

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52 people have lost their lives in Kenya’s deadliest crash in recent years, involving a truck ploughing into multiple vehicles and pedestrians, authorities confirmed on Saturday.

The truck carrying a shipping container veered out of control and ploughed into several other vehicles and people thronging a busy road junction on Friday evening, plunging the nation into shock and mourning.

‘The toll has risen to 52 after three more people succumbed to their injuries in hospital,’ local police commander Geoffrey Mayek told AFP.

The disaster occurred at Londiani junction on a busy highway between the lakeside town of Nakuru and Kericho, an area known for its lush tea plantations.

Transport Minister Kipchumba Murkomen told reporters during a visit to the site that new safety measures would be introduced after what he described as a ‘terrible’ and ‘painful’ tragedy.

‘Investigations have been launched to establish the cause of this accident but we urge drivers to be cautious and follow the rules,’ he said, adding the truck was believed to have been bound for Rwanda.

On Saturday, large crowds of onlookers visited the scene with debris strewn across a wide area.

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Abdi Hassan said rescuers had resumed a search for victims believed trapped under the wreckage, but it was not known if the updated toll included bodies recovered from the site.

Hassan added that more than 30 people were injured when the truck rammed into private cars, minibuses, boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) and market stalls at Londiani junction.

Kenyan station Citizen TV said the truck driver had died, but this could not be immediately confirmed independently.

Footage from the scene late Friday showed the mangled wreckage of multiple vehicles, doors torn off minibuses and motorbikes crushed into chunks of twisted metal, as rescuers worked in the dark under pouring rain.

On Saturday, large crowds of onlookers visited the scene where the overturned container was stuck in a ditch, debris was strewn across a wide area, including car seats, piles of fruit, a damaged axel and even a lone black boot.

‘The accident happened in a flash, many of them had no time to escape,’ said one witness, Joel Rotich.

‘There was a lot of confusion because people were screaming all over and everyone was running after the accident.’

Kenyan leaders including President William Ruto expressed their condolences after the accident and Londiani was trending on social media, with many people posting sombre pictures of a candle next to the word Londiani on Twitter.

‘The country mourns with the families who have lost loved ones,’ Ruto said on his official Twitter page on Friday.

Read | N1 Crash Survivor’s Tragedy Turns to Catastrophe as Truck Ploughs into Crash Scene Killing Her

Murkomen said the Government planned to arrange for street traders to move from roadside areas to designated markets in a bid to avoid such catastrophes in future.

He also called for increased safety measures at the site of the accident, such as speed bumps and for long-distance truck drivers to ensure they have proper rest breaks and also take refresher courses.

Last July, at least 34 people perished when a bus plunged into a river at a notorious blackspot in central Kenya, while a bus crash in October 2018 in Kericho county claimed the lives of 50 people.

In a speech in December, Murkomen blamed human error for much of the carnage on the roads, including drunk driving, speeding, fatigue and dangerous overtaking.

The World Health Organization said in September last year that Africa has the highest road traffic fatality rate in the world, with more than 800 people killed every day.

According to figures from Kenya’s National Transport and Safety Authority, at least 21,760 people were involved in road accidents last year, including 4,690 who died.

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