Nairobi, Kenya – The death toll from the West Pokot landslides has risen to 52 after six more bodies were recovered according to Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper.
At least 22 other people are missing after the tragedy that hit Parua, Nyarkulian and Muino, according to Governor John Lonyangapuo.
On Saturday, Kenyans woke up to news that dozens of men, women and children were buried alive in more than three remote villages of West Pokot County.
Prof Lonyangapuo on Monday told journalists that search and rescue mission was still underway.
The efforts to find and pull more bodies out of mud have been hampered by lack of transport because the roads heading to the area are either impassable or non-existent.
He said 22,000 homesteads and between 80,000-120,000 people have been displaced or affected by the landslides.
The county, the governor said, has run out of medicines after the remaining stocks were sent to dispensaries and schools caring for the displaced.
The governor further appealed to well-wishers to donate food items, clothes, blankets among others, saying that they have set up store in Kapenguria township for aid.
He said they will also establish a helpline and paybill number to help the victims.
What is a landslide?
The US Geological Survey (USGS) defines a landslide as “the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth down a slope.”
“Landslides are a type of “mass wasting,” which denotes any down-slope movement of soil and rock under the direct influence of gravity,” USGS says.
What’s the difference between a landslide and a mudslide?
According to an article on National Public Radio (NPR), landslides occur when masses of rock, earth or debris move down a slope.
Debris flows, also known as mudslides, are a common type of fast-moving landslide that tends to flow in channels, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fact sheet.
What causes landslides?
There are three causes of landslides, which are natural so man has no control over them, such as the movement of tectonic plates, weather that causes freezing and thawing at the same time.
However, studies show that majority of, if not all, the landslides in Kenya are triggered or caused by water or human activities or a combination of both.
Slope saturation by water is a primary cause of landslides.
The human activities include clearing of vegetation, farming, undercutting, building, quarrying, blasting, construction and other engineering works.