Tourists evacuated from Kenya’s Maasai Mara reserve amid flooding and heavy rains

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Tourists were evacuated by air from Kenya’s Maasai Mara national reserve Wednesday after more than a dozen hotels, lodges and camps were flooded as heavy rains continue to batter the country.

Tourist accommodation facilities were submerged after a river within the Maasai Mara broke its banks early Wednesday. The reserve, in southwestern Kenya, is a popular tourist destination because it features the annual wildebeest migration from the Serengeti in Tanzania.

The Kenya Red Cross said it rescued 36 people by air and 25 others by land. The Narok County government said it deployed two helicopters to carry out evacuations in the expansive conservation area.

More than 170 people have died across Kenya since mid-March when the rainy season started, causing flooding, landslides and destroying infrastructure. The Metrology Department has warned that more rain is expected this week.

On Monday, a river broke through a clogged tunnel in Mai Mahiu area in western Kenya, sweeping houses away and damaging roads. The incident left 48 people dead and more than 80 others missing.

Search and rescue operations across the Mai Mahiu area are ongoing. President William Ruto on Tuesday ordered the military to join in the search.

Locals say rescue efforts have been slow due to lack of equipment to dig through the debris.

The government has urged people living in flood-prone areas to evacuate or be moved forcefully as water level in two major hydroelectric dams rise to a “historic high”.

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