NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenyan rescuers found a 1-year-old girl buried in the rubble of a collapsed residential building Tuesday who managed to survive 80 hours trapped in the twisted metal and concrete.
The Kenya Red Cross said rescuers found the little girl in a bucket, wrapped in a blanket, and pulled her from the rubble at 4 a.m. The aid agency said she was severely dehydrated but showed no signs of physical injury from the disaster, which claimed at least 21 lives.
The search for survivors continued after the residential building in the low income Huruma area of Nairobi collapsed on Friday. Dozens of people were still missing after the collapse, and rescuers had said Monday that the chances of finding any more survivors were slim.
Authorities had initially said the building had six stories but it emerged that the ground and first floor had sunk following heavy rains.
The building, next to a river, had been declared unfit for human habitation by Kenya’s National Construction Authority but was not torn down.
Bribe-taking officers in the county government are responsible for allowing contractors to bypass building codes, Nairobi governor Evan Kidero said. He vowed to fire those responsible. The building’s owner obeyed police orders and turned himself in for questioning, Japheth Koome, Nairobi’s police chief said.
“People who’ve died in Huruma have died an unnecessary death. That death is a product of corruption … someone is paid $10,000 or $20,000 to approve the building that cost the lives of Kenyans,” nominated legislator Johnson Sakaja said.
Kenyan military personnel led the rescue operation using heavy machinery to remove concrete slabs. About 300 residents of two adjacent buildings, also built close the river, were evacuated.
Taking advantage of a high demand for housing in Nairobi, some property developers bypass building regulations to cut costs and maximize profits.
President Uhuru Kenyatta last year ordered an audit of all the country’s buildings to see if they are up to code after eight buildings collapsed, killing at least 15 people.
The report from the audit by the National Construction Authority found that 58 percent of buildings in the capital are unfit for habitation. The majority of Nairobi’s estimated 4 million people live in low income areas or slums.