At least 12 people have been killed in Kenya when their homes were swept away in a landslide following heavy rains, according to local officials.
The incident overnight on Friday took place in West Pokot region, 350km (220 miles) northwest of the capital, Nairobi. Rescue efforts continued on Saturday amid fears the death toll could rise.
“Twelve bodies have been recovered, and a search for more is going on,” Apollo Okello, West Pokot county commissioner, told journalists on Saturday.
“The challenge we are facing is the heavy rains, but we are trying our best,” he added.
Okello said two children were pulled out alive from the smashed wreckage of their mud-covered homes.
“They have been rushed to hospital,” he said.
Rescue efforts have been delayed because roads have been cut and bridges closed after streams turned into raging torrents.
“Massive landslides reported in various areas of West Pokot County following heavy downpour,” Kenya Red Cross said in a message, adding that its emergency response teams had deployed to help.
The landslide came amid weeks of destructive rains and flooding across East Africa.
The violent downpours have displaced tens of thousands in Somalia and submerged whole towns in South Sudan, while dozens of people have been killed in flash floods and landslides in parts of Ethiopia and Tanzania.
In South Sudan alone, close to a million people have been affected amid growing fears of disease and starvation.
Floods hit East Africa regularly, but scientists say they have recently been exacerbated by a powerful climate phenomenon in the Indian Ocean stronger than any seen in years.
The extreme weather is blamed on the Indian Ocean Dipole – a climate system defined by the difference in sea surface temperature between western and eastern areas of the ocean.
The ocean off East Africa is currently far warmer than usual, resulting in higher evaporation resulting in rain over the continent.
In April 2018, landslides in Kenya killed 100 people and displaced thousands.