“We have lost 15 people from this tragedy this morning,” said regional coordinator Kangethe Thuku. “We’re yet to establish the cause of this fire,” he said, which is believed to have started in a timber yard. The pre-dawn blaze left over 70 people injured and destroyed many of the market’s wood and tarp stalls where second-hand clothes, shoes and vegetables are sold on the eastern side of the city.
A police officer at the scene said emergency services continued to search the area. “We are still trying to get to some corner [of the market] which has heavy smoke, because part of the area has not been accessed due to live electric wires,” the officer said. Witnesses heard explosions as gas canisters were swept up in the inferno.
Nine of the dead were in an apartment block next to the market while six others — including four children — died of their injuries in hospital. A large fire destroyed much of the market in October last year. In May 2014, 10 people died in a bombing at the market blamed on Al-Qaeda-aligned Shabaab militants.