NAIROBI : Seven young students died and scores were injured early Monday when a school building collapsed in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, in an accident blamed on shoddy construction.

''We can confirm that we have seven fatalities,'' said government spokesman Cyrus Oguna.

Education Minister George Magoha said in a statement that 64 pupils been admitted to Kenyatta National Hospital, most of them with minor injuries, but two others reported ''more attention''.

Hundreds of angry residents of dagoretti, a poor suburb where many live in makeshift homes, thronged the site where rescuers picked through the rubble until the search for victims ended in the afternoon.

An AFP reporter at the site said books and desks were strewn through the debris of the two-storey building, a semi-permanent structure made of concrete, iron sheeting and timber.

''I had just dropped my son to school, and heard screams on my way back, and that is when I found people assisting them out to hospital,'' said Margaret Muthoni at Kenyatta National Hospital, whose four-year-old son was injured.

The disaster high-lighted the lack of ''regulation of educational institutions, especially those in informal settlements...., regulations that pertain to the construction and stability of educational institutions.

''It is the highest level of irresponsibility and greed when you look at this structure that came down, and even the ones standing. It is another disaster waiting to happen,'' said Shadrack Okelo, a local resident.

Moses Nyakiongora, an official with the National Building Inspectorate said at the scene : ''This school was not properly constructed. It is totally substandard.

Numerous buildings have collapsed in Nairobi and other Kenyan towns with deadly results in recent years., as the country experiences booming growth in the construction industry.

Corruption has allowed contractors to cut corners or bypass regulation. [AFP]


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