Thomas Mukoya | A Spectacular Failure
East African Photography Award
A Spectacular Failure
Survivors of a fire which tore through a Kenyan slum leaving four dead have described the battle to save their homes as "like fighting in hell". Residents used sewage water in a desperate attempt to douse the flames which had engulfed the houses in the Lang'ata area of the capital, Nairobi. The MP for the area, Nixon Korir, said fire engines which turned up to help did not have enough water. It is feared that more bodies may be found as residents begin to comb through the wreckage of their homes. Meanwhile, those who survived - thought to amount to some 6,000 people - are coming to terms with starting again. ''I don't see how I can live here anymore, I have lived here for 17 years and I have never seen anything like this”, Titus Mutua, a resident said. "I don't know where my children are, my wife says she took them to her friends. I have nowhere to sleep - I am just sleeping under a tree.'' Deputy President William Ruto has said that the government will spend $490,000 (£347,000) to help victims. However, it is not clear whether the offer is enough to quell anger over the perceived failings of the fire service, which has spilled over from the settlement itself to social media, where people are questioning where the government's priorities lie. Only four fire engines were deployed and the military did not help, despite the Langata Barracks being located barely a kilometer from the area. Informal settlements like Kijiji suffer from a lack of planning, with crammed houses and poor roads making it impossible for the fire engines to navigate beyond the edges of the settlement, a known issue that city planners have long ignored. Kenyans are furious that once again a disaster has caught the authorities flat-footed, some observing that during the post-election chaos late last year the police water cannons that were used to disperse demonstrators never ran out of water. Police have begun an investigation into the ten-hour blaze.