kenya mourns 142 dead

NAIROBI - Kenya began a week of mourning for at least 142 people who died in a petrol-tanker blaze and another fire in a supermarket.

The incidents have brought severe criticism of poor disaster preparedness.

At least 115 people died when a crowd scrabbling for free fuel crowded around a tanker that had crashed near central Molo on Saturday. A cigarette set off the blaze, engulfing the crowd in flames. Nearly 200 people were injured.

Days after the Nakumatt Supermarket in Nairobi burnt down on Wednesday, 27 corpses were pulled out by Sunday, the Red Cross said. About 30 people were missing from the shop and 100 from Molo.

Kenyans have lambasted the response to both disasters, saying authorities were unprepared and late. Witnesses spoke of locked fire doors at the supermarket. Hospitals were overwhelmed by the number of dead and injured.

Kenya's Daily Nation said: "Watching top government officials making frantic efforts to get the injured to hospitals was a study in logistical deficiency." - Reuters