Kenya – Deadly Flash Floods in Hell’s Gate National Park

At least 6 people died and more are thought to be missing after flash floods in the western Kenya.

Image: Hell’s Gate National Park Gorge. Photo from 2007. Credit: Nao Iizuka Under CC BY 2.0

The incident occurred on 01 September, 2019. The victims are thought to include a tour guide and tourists who were visiting Hell’s Gate National Park in the Rift Valley region of Kenya.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), responsible for the park, said on 02 September:

“Six bodies of the flash flood victims have been recovered, leaving one tourist missing. The search and rescue operation continues as we reach out to next of kin to share details of (this) sad incident and plan together (our) next course of action.”

“The gorge in Hell’s Gate National Park has been closed to the public with immediate effect due to continuing rains. A helicopter will be released from Nairobi to help with the search and rescue operation,” KWS added.

The flooding struck after heavy rain in surrounding highland areas swept into narrow gorges in the national park regularly visited by tourists. A similar incident occurred in the Hell’s Gate National Park in 2012, where 7 people died.

KWS said: “Since the last similar tragedy in 2012, we have created clearly marked emergency exists along the whole gorge as escape routes in case of danger like the flash floods.

“The tour guides have also been trained to detect storm water flowing downstream towards the gorge. Every group is usually accompanied by experienced guides who are able to alert tourists of impending emergencies and direct them to exit points.”

Rainfall figures for the areas are unavailable. Narok, a town about 50km / 30 miles west of Hell’s Gate National Park, recorded around 50mm of rain in 24 hours to 02 September.

Kenya Met Department warned of further heavy for western parts of the country over the coming days, with rainfall amounts above 100mm expected in some parts of Uasin Gishu, Nyandarua, Laikipia and Nyeri Counties.

Kenya Met Department

Flooding recently hit neighbouring parts of Uganda. At least 5 people died in Bulambuli District, Eastern Uganda when flooding and landslides struck after heavy rain from 27 August. Bulambuli is about 330km / 200 miles north west of Naivasha.