Kenya to charge 9 over dam break that killed 47 at farm

Kenya's top prosecutor has ordered nine businessmen and government officials charged with manslaughter for their involvement in the collapse of a dam on a farm that killed at least 47 people.

Break occurred after weeks of heavy rain, flooding 2 villages

Survivors of the flooding huddle together in Kenya's Rift Valley on May 10 after the dam burst, killing dozens and forcing hundreds from their homes. (Associated Press)

Kenya's top prosecutor on Wednesday ordered nine businessmen and government officials charged with manslaughter for their involvement in the collapse of a dam on a farm in May that killed at least 47 people.

Noordin Haji said in a statement that his office is preparing for the suspects to be arraigned in court to answer to the charges.

Two managers at the commercial farm in Nakuru County in Kenya's Rift Valley are among those to be charged, Haji's office said in a statement. Officials from the state-run Water Resources Management Authority, the National Environment Management Authority and the administration of Nakuru County will also face charges.

The dam helped irrigate private farmland where flowers, macadamia nuts and coffee are grown about 190 kilometres from the capital, Nairobi.

It burst after weeks of heavy rain, sending cascades of water down a hillside where it smashed into two villages.

Reports at the time said a 1.5-metre wall of water swept aside everything in its path, including a primary school and power lines. Many families lost children.

Haji's statement said unqualified staff had built the dam using farm equipment, relying on flawed designs and without the necessary environmental impact assessment.

Haji said officials from the state agency in charge of water management had issued the dam's permit without the proper oversight, and that the government's environment regulators had failed to conduct compliance checks.

The dam's owner, Mansukhlal Kansagra Patel, has denied reports that it was constructed illegally, saying the dam was built with permission and authorities had carried out an inspection. 

With files from Reuters