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Kenya blaze victims buried in mass graves

world Updated: Feb 09, 2009 22:56 IST
Martin Telewa
Martin Telewa
Kenya blaze victims buried in mass graves

Seventy-eight Kenyans who burned to death in one of the country's worst accidents were buried together on Monday because their bodies were too charred to be identified.

President Mwai Kibaki and other officials donned face masks to block out the stench as a bulldozer poured soil over two large graves near the scene of Saturday's inferno on a road outside the central town of Molo.

At least 133 people were killed as a blaze lit by a cigarette engulfed a crowd who were scrambling for free fuel spilling from an overturned tanker.

Kibaki said the nation was "pained to the core" by the tragedy, which came just days after a fire swept through a supermarket in central Nairobi, killing at least 27 people.

"To the families of the bereaved, I wish to comfort you and encourage you to take heart in the knowledge that the entire country is sharing in your pain," he said at the graveside.

The two disasters have brought a torrent of accusations that his government is poorly prepared to deal with emergencies.

The deaths have also compounded a mood of national gloom in Kenya, where major new graft scandals have come to light and the economy has taken a dive due to the global recession and the impact of last year's post-election election violence.

East Africa's biggest economy also faces food shortages, with 10 million people, more than a quarter of the population, suffering from hunger.