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APTOPIX Kenya Building Collapse

Six people died and 14 were still missing after a three-story building collapsed on the outskirts of the country’s capital, a police official said Tuesday, as experts warned that irresponsible contractors were to blame.

Policeman Samuel Mukindia said two people died while receiving treatment at a Nairobi hospital. The bodies of three men were pulled from the rubble at the building site in Kiambu. Another victim, a woman, was crushed to death. Police said 13 people were injured.

The Kenya Red Cross said 14 people were still unaccounted for after being reported missing by their relatives and friends.

Millicent Wairumu said she believed her younger brother David Wachira was trapped in the rubble. She cooked him breakfast Monday morning and asked him to work in her shop. He declined her offer, saying he wanted to earn his own money and he was already staying in her house.

“I can’t reach him on his mobile phone,” she wept as she dialed his number on her phone. “He should not have been here. I should have insisted he came to work for me.”

Monday’s disaster came barely a week after the Kenya Architectural Association said in a report that 65 percent of structures in the country were substandard.

Richard Chepkwony, a member of the Institution of Engineers of Kenya, said the organization was receiving almost daily reports of buildings collapsing because of poor construction. He said the building collapsed on Monday because of its substandard construction material and poor workmanship.

“If you grab a block of concrete, you can crack it using your hands,” he said, crushing lumps of concrete between his fingers. “This is not the end of the story. We will be seeing more of this if the government does not enact laws to ensure required construction standards are met.”

Building collapses are common in Africa. Corrupt planning officials, substandard materials and poor workmanship are often to blame.

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