Nine dead after crane hitch at Qwetu Kilimani building

A worker at the site narrating what happened.

Photo credit: Collins Omulo | Nation Media Group

Nine people have lost their lives while another one has sustained minor injuries after a crane they were operating at a construction site in Hurlingham, Nairobi collapsed.

Those who died in the Thursday afternoon incident were seven Kenyans and two Chinese nationals who were operating the crane at the proposed Qwetu Hostels construction site.

Kilimani OCPD Andrew Mbogo confirmed the incident, which happened around 12.30pm when the crane came crashing down as the operators were fixing it.

“They were 10 workers operating the crane at around 12.20 hours when it collapsed with them still on top of it. Nine of them lost their lives, including two Chinese, while one was slightly injured,” said Mr Mbogo.

He said that the slightly injured worker was rushed to Nairobi Women’s Hospital while the bodies were taken to Chiromo Mortuary. Mr Mbogo further said that they were investigating what could have caused the accident.

Paramedics at a construction site in Hurlingham, Nairobi where nine people died after a crane malfunctioned on August 26, 2021.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

“We were fearing that probably more people were buried inside the debris but somehow none has been found. The company doing the construction has accounted for all the people,” he said.

According to a carpenter at the site, Michael Odhiambo, they had just taken a lunch break at around 12.15pm.But 10 minutes or so later, they heard a loud bang like that of a heavy machine falling and they started scampering for safety.

“On coming back to confirm what was happening, we saw the crane had come down. The crane operators were also lying dead after being thrown down from over 70 metres high,” said Mr Odhiambo.

He said the crane operators are always eight in number and they are people who are known in the area as they are often involved in a lot of construction work in the area.

One of the construction company officials leaves the site.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

“Only one survived because he had belted up and the belt held him as others were thrown off. We thought he had also died because he could not talk,” he said.

The worker said construction work at the 14-storey students’ hostel, which is being built opposite the Department of Defence (DoD) headquarters by Chinese firm ZJCC Engineering and Construction company, was almost complete.

Another worker, who identified herself as Josephine, said the crane operators tried to control it so as not to crash into nearby houses where other workers were.

“They were using it to paint the complete building. Then it suddenly began behaving funny. The operators struggled with the crane to prevent it from falling on buildings where we were. This is what saved many lives,” she said.

People are seen outside the construction site in Hurlingham, Nairobi.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Police and military personnel were the first to arrive at the site following the incident. A forensic team from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and a Kenya Red Cross rescue team also arrived at the scene.

A fire engine from the Nairobi County Disaster Management and Coordination department arrived more than three hours after the incident and after the bodies had been removed from the scene.


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