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Masinga dam at risk of overflowing as floods cut off key roads

The government has warned that the Masinga Dam could overflow in the coming days as heavy rains continue.

Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir said the country’s largest dam will burst its banks in less than a week, worsening the situation in Tana River County, which is already suffering the effects of flooding.

“With the recent heavy rains, our dams, especially Masinga, are receiving some significant inflows. Masinga Dam is currently at 1,047.51 metres above sea level (mASL) against a maximum level of 1,056mASL. We still have about nine metres to go to reach the maximum capacity for Masinga,” he said.

The CS, who on Friday conducted an inspection tour of KenGen’s seven Forks dams to assess water inflows following the recent heavy rains, urged Kenyans living downstream of the Tana River to move immediately.

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“This means that we expect the maximum levels to be reached over the weekend or early next week if the rains continue. We, therefore, call on those living downstream to be on high alert and exercise caution and further urge those living near the river to consider moving to safer areas to avoid loss of lives and minimise destruction of property,” he warned.

The dam feeds four other dams downstream which are almost full.

In particular, the Kamburu dam, which receives water from the Thiba River as well as the Tana, is currently at 1,005.82 metres above sea level against a maximum capacity of 1,006.50 metres.

The Elnino rains, which are expected to continue into December and the first quarter of 2024, have already displaced thousands of people in Garissa and Tana River counties.

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The worst affected counties include Mombasa, Garissa, Tana River, Makueni, Marsabit, Kilifi, Kwale, Meru, Isiolo, Turkana, Samburu, Wajir, Homa Bay and Busia.

According to the Kenya Red Cross, the floods have killed at least 71 people and displaced more than 150,000 – a death toll that is feared to rise after another tragedy in Makueni on Thursday night, when seven people were swept away as they tried to cross a swollen river.

Three bodies have been recovered as search and rescue operations continue. Several major roads have been cut off, stranding travellers.

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