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Looting during Kenya airport fire

09 August 2013, 07:42

Nairobi - Officials in Kenya investigating the massive airport fire that gutted the arrival hall at Nairobi's main airport, said on Thursday that first responders stole electronics and money from an ATM.

Another official said that police guarding the site overnight attempted to a take a safe from a bank in the burned-out arrivals hall, which also houses several foreign currency exchange shops.

All four officials who described the alleged looting are close to the investigation. They insisted on anonymity because they weren't authorised to share the information before the investigation is complete.

The fire-fighting response to Wednesday's inferno was criticised as slow and inadequate, but the officials could not definitely say the looting was carried out by firefighters.

One official said there was now behind-the-scenes finger pointing taking place between the police, fire department and army. Another official said specialised police units had attempted to steal the safe overnight.

The criminal investigations policeman for the airport, Joseph Ngisa, said he hasn't received formal complaints of theft and that police are waiting for affected institutions to report what they lost in the fire.

All public servants in Kenya, including police, firefighters and soldiers, are poorly paid and frequently accused of corruption.

Police officers who guard the entrance to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport are well known in Nairobi for demanding bribes from taxi drivers and other vehicles with Kenyan drivers.

International flights, meanwhile, resumed on Thursday as officials improvised immigration and luggage routines.

Kenyan officials, assisted by members of the FBI, investigated the cause of the fire. One of the security officials who spoke to AP said the investigation had ruled out terrorism and was now trying to determine if the fire was intentional or accidental.

- AP


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