Kenya's top prosecutor orders dam disaster investigation

NAIROBI, May 11 (Reuters) - Kenya's chief prosecutor on Friday ordered police to investigate a dam-burst on a commercial farm in the Rift Valley that killed dozens of people as a wall of water tore down a hillside, obliterating everything in its path.

At least 44 people were killed when the reservoir, used to store water for the farming of roses for export to Europe, burst its banks on Wednesday night after heavy rains. Another 40 people have been reported missing.

The public prosecutor's office said on Twitter the police chief had been ordered "to carry out thorough investigations to establish cause and culpability if any" behind the disaster and file a report within two weeks.

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Deadly dam burst in Kenya
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Deadly dam burst in Kenya
Children walk in muddy waters after a dam burst, which unleashed water at nearby homes, in Solio town near Nakuru, Kenya May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Survivors are seen outside their house which was partly destroyed by water after a dam burst, in Solio town near Nakuru, Kenya May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Children look at houses destroyed by flooding waters after a dam burst, in Solio town near Nakuru, Kenya May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Survivors sit outside their destroyed house after a dam burst, which unleashed water at nearby homes, in Solio town near Nakuru, Kenya May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A house partly destroyed by flood waters after a dam burst, is pictured in Solio town near Nakuru, Kenya May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Rose flowers are seen destroyed inside a greenhouse at the Solai farm after their dam burst its walls, overrunning nearby homes, in Solai town near Nakuru, Kenya May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Roses are seen inside a greenhouse at the Solai farm after their dam burst its walls, overrunning nearby homes, in Solai town near Nakuru, Kenya May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Residents tour the dam that burst its walls, overrunning nearby homes, in Solai town near Nakuru, Kenya May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Destroyed greenhouses are seen at the Solai farm after their dam burst its walls, overrunning nearby homes, in Solai town near Nakuru, Kenya May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Military officers drain water from an adjacent dam after another dam burst its walls, overrunning nearby homes, in Solai town near Nakuru, Kenya May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Jackson Njehia
A child walks in his house, which was partly destroyed by flooding water after a dam burst, in Solio town near Nakuru, Kenya May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A general view shows the dam that burst its walls, overrunning nearby homes, in Solai town near Nakuru, Kenya May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
A survivor reacts near destroyed houses by flooding water after a dam burst, in Solio town near Nakuru, Kenya May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
A child walks near destroyed houses by flooding water after a dam burst, in Solio town near Nakuru, Kenya May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
An aerial view of rescue efforts near destroyed houses by flooding water after a dam burst, in Solio town near Nakuru, Kenya May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
An aerial view of rescue efforts near destroyed houses by flooding water after a dam burst, in Solio town near Nakuru, Kenya May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Kenya Defence Force (KDF) soldiers patrol and inspect in a crop field on May 11, 2018 in search of bodies of victims after a dam burst its banks, sending muddy waters raging through homes and killing at least 45 people in Subukia, Nakuru county. - Kenya's top prosecutor has ordered a probe into the collapse of the dam on the night of May 10, as questions mount over the quality of construction of the private reservoir on a vast farming estate. Since March, 2018, the floods have destroyed road networks, in some cases the military has stepped in to airlift residents from submerged houses, and at least 21,000 acres (8,500 hectares) of farmland have been submerged in water with an estimated 20,000 animals killed, the Red Cross said last week. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Resident women talk together as they stand among scattered belongings on May 11, 2018 after a dam burst its banks, sending muddy waters raging through homes and killing at least 45 people in Subukia, Nakuru county. - Kenya's top prosecutor has ordered a probe into the collapse of the dam on the night of May 10, as questions mount over the quality of construction of the private reservoir on a vast farming estate. Since March, 2018, the floods have destroyed road networks, in some cases the military has stepped in to airlift residents from submerged houses, and at least 21,000 acres (8,500 hectares) of farmland have been submerged in water with an estimated 20,000 animals killed, the Red Cross said last week. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents try to save seeds from a granary building destroyed by floods on May 11, 2018 after a dam burst its banks, sending muddy waters raging through homes and killing at least 45 people in Subukia, Nakuru county. - Kenya's top prosecutor has ordered a probe into the collapse of the dam on the night of May 10, as questions mount over the quality of construction of the private reservoir on a vast farming estate. Since March, 2018, the floods have destroyed road networks, in some cases the military has stepped in to airlift residents from submerged houses, and at least 21,000 acres (8,500 hectares) of farmland have been submerged in water with an estimated 20,000 animals killed, the Red Cross said last week. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Kenya Defence Force (KDF) soldiers patrol and inspect through mud and debris on May 11, 2018 in search of bodies of victims after a dam burst its banks, sending muddy waters raging through homes and killing at least 45 people in Subukia, Nakuru county. - Kenya's top prosecutor has ordered a probe into the collapse of the dam on the night of May 10, as questions mount over the quality of construction of the private reservoir on a vast farming estate. Since March, 2018, the floods have destroyed road networks, in some cases the military has stepped in to airlift residents from submerged houses, and at least 21,000 acres (8,500 hectares) of farmland have been submerged in water with an estimated 20,000 animals killed, the Red Cross said last week. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Kenya Defence Force (KDF) soldiers patrol and inspect through mud and debris on May 11, 2018 in search of bodies of victims after a dam burst its banks, sending muddy waters raging through homes and killing at least 45 people in Subukia, Nakuru county. - Kenya's top prosecutor has ordered a probe into the collapse of the dam on the night of May 10, as questions mount over the quality of construction of the private reservoir on a vast farming estate. Since March, 2018, the floods have destroyed road networks, in some cases the military has stepped in to airlift residents from submerged houses, and at least 21,000 acres (8,500 hectares) of farmland have been submerged in water with an estimated 20,000 animals killed, the Red Cross said last week. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Volunteers search for survivers in a residential area after Patel dam burst its bank at Solai, about 40 kilometres north of Nakuru, Kenya, on May 10, 2018. (Photo by AFP) (Photo credit should read /AFP/Getty Images)
Villagers dig through mud as they attempt to find survivors of flash flooding at Solai in Subukia, Nakuru County on May 10, 2018, after the banks of a private dam used for irrigation and fish farming burst its banks some 40kms north of the lakeside town of Nakuru in Kenya's Rift Valley. - At least 41 people died after a dam burst in central Kenya, police said, as residents described muddy waters ripping through their homes in what one survivor called 'hell on earth'. After a severe drought, weeks of torrential rains in Kenya have led to flooding and mudslides that have left 172 dead. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)
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The Daily Nation newspaper quoted government officials as saying the dam and others on the 3,500-acre Solai farm, 120 miles northwest of Nairobi, had not been cleared by government engineers.

Villagers had complained when the dams were built, accusing the farm-owner of depriving them of access to river water, the paper reported.

Vinoj Kumar, general manager of the farm, blamed the disaster on heavy rainfall in a forest above the dam. He declined to comment on the Daily Nation allegations, saying he was too busy to talk.

Kenya's cut-flower sector, in the fertile Rift Valley, has grown dramatically in the last decade to become one of the biggest foreign exchange earners in East Africa's largest economy and a major source of employment.

After a severe drought last year, East Africa has been hit by two months of heavy rain that has affected nearly a million people in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Uganda. Bridges have been swept away and roads turned into rivers of mud.

More than 150 people have been killed and 300,000 displaced in Kenya, where roads, bridges and crops have been swept away, causing millions of dollars of damage.

"We all breathed a sigh of relief when the rainy season started strong in early March," said Lane Bunkers of Catholic Relief Services in Kenya.

"But now - two months later - we are seeing the consequences of the drought-ravaged land's inability to absorb all the rain due to its degraded state."

(Reporting by Duncan Miriri, Humphrey Malalo and Maggie Fick; Editing by Ed Cropley and Janet Lawrence)

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