Nairobi explosions: At least three dead after lorry carrying gas cylinders explodes in Kenyan capital and sparks 'huge' inferno

Three people have died, including a child, after a lorry loaded with gas cylinders exploded near an industrial site in Nairobi - igniting a "huge fireball" which spread to nearby homes and warehouses.

Officials said 271 people were injured and taken to hospital following the blasts in the Embakasi neighbourhood of Kenya's capital.

The explosions took place on Thursday at around 11:30pm local time (8:30pm UK time), with many people thought to have been inside their homes when the fire reached their properties, government spokesman Isaac Mwaura said.

Embakasi police warned the number of deaths could rise.

Several vehicles and businesses were also damaged in the inferno.

A witness told Kenya's Nation news site there were "huge explosions" and "huge fireballs", with "people screaming and running everywhere for fear of more explosions".

Mr Mwaura wrote on X that a lorry carrying gas cylinders in the area exploded before "igniting a huge fireball that spread widely". He said one of the "flying" cylinders struck a textiles warehouse and burned it down.

Mr Mwaura added: "Consequently, the inferno further damaged several vehicles and commercial properties, including many small and medium-sized businesses.

"Sadly, residential houses in the neighbourhood also caught fire, with a good number of residents still inside as it was late at night."

The vehicle believed to have started the explosion was flipped on its side, and only the shell remained on the road.

The roof of a four-storey residential building about 200 metres from the scene of the blast was also destroyed by a flying gas cylinder.

The cause of the initial blast is unknown.

A total of 167 people were taken to the city's Mama Lucy Hospital for treatment, including 142 adults and 25 children, local media reported. The Standard newspaper said many of them had inhalation injuries.

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The Kenya Red Cross said on X earlier that crews had been "tirelessly battling the flames" and that it had taken 29 people to the Kenyatta National Hospital.

It later said staff had successfully helped reunite 21 children with their parents.

Alfred Juma, who lives in the area, said his home was destroyed in the blast.

Mr Juma said he woke up his neighbours and encouraged them to leave after he heard a loud noise.

He said he grabbed two children and they hid in a sewage ditch until the explosions stopped.

Mr Juma also said he warned a car not to drive through the area - but the driver insisted and his vehicle stalled because of the fumes.

"He attempted to start the car three times and that's when there was an explosion and the fire spread into the [warehouse] setting off other explosions."

Caroline Karanja, who also lives near the site, said: "Police were turning away everyone and so it was difficult to access my house and I had to seek a place to sleep until this morning."

Ms Karanja said the smell and smoke were still intense on Friday morning, and she would have to stay away for a while because she had young children.

The close proximity of the industrial firm's building to homes has prompted questions over the enforcement of city zoning rules.

Officials have previously been accused of taking bribes to overlook building codes and regulations.