Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Saturday, August 8, 1998 Published at 19:40 GMT 20:40 UK

World: Africa

Eyewitnesses tell their story

More than 140 people died in the Nairobi blast

On the morning of Friday 7 August, two bombs ripped the heart out of the centre of two African capitals - Nairobi, Kenya, took the first blast followed minutes later by Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

The targets in each case appear to have been the US embassies but most of the victims are ordinary African men and women.

This man in Nairobi was quickly on the scene of the explosion.

"We heard a large bang, and people screaming all over, and we saw the vehicles here being mangled, people being thrown about ... we found people screaming and running out but a number of people are dead, there are dead bodies on the fifth, 15th, and 16th floors (of the Cooperative Bank)."

Minutes later a second device exploded in Dar es Salaam.

Jim Owens was in the American embassy with a colleague.

[ image: Victims suffered head, arm and leg injuries from flying glass]
Victims suffered head, arm and leg injuries from flying glass
"He came flying across the desk and took the brunt of the explosion ... both of us are okay. The air was filled with smoke and dust, we could hear some people crying, that were lying under a collapsed wall.

"There were some people that I saw were very badly injured. I helped one woman down the stairways - half of her nose was missing and she was bleeding profusely but she was really quite calm and very deliberate in her motions, so I think she's going to be okay.

"People in the front of the building I would have to say didn't stand a chance."

In Nairobi, the blast demolished an office block, sending it crashing onto the embassy next door. Passers-by tore at the rubble, while the emergency services soon arrived on the scene.

Nina Galbe of the Red Cross described the scene.

"It's a kind of eerie activity going on there. the scene is one of complete devastation. If you remember the images from Beirut, from during the war, this area looks something like that."

[ image: Prudence Bushnell:
Prudence Bushnell: "Face to face with evil"
As the scale of the disaster became known, with the number of dead quickly climbing towards 100 and many more injured, Nairobi's hospitals soon filled.

Dr Frank Njenga helped to co-ordinate the medical effort.

"For the time being we are coping. We have a severe shortage of blood, we have a significant shortage of surgical supplies - our disaster plan is intended to cater for 60 people, we have received 350 plus."

It is still not known who committed the acts - but American ambassador to Kenya, Prudence Bushnell, who was herself injured in the explosion, had this to say of the perpetrators.

"Yesterday morning at about 10:40, literally thousands of people came face to face with evil. And the result is broken hearts, shattered lives, shock, dismay, anger, and most of all incredible sorrow."

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

09 Aug 98 | Africa
Africa bombings: latest pictures

29 Oct 98 | Americas
Justice will be done - Clinton

08 Aug 98 | Africa
FBI investigates bomb blasts

29 Oct 98 | Africa
Kenyan press shocked at 'cowardly' bombing

07 Aug 98 | Africa
Bombs provoke world condemnation

07 Aug 98 | Monitoring
Islamic Jihad vows 'revenge'

In this section

Dam builders charged in bribery scandal

Burundi camps 'too dire' to help

Sudan power struggle denied

Animal airlift planned for Congo

Spy allegations bug South Africa

Senate leader's dismissal 'a good omen'

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Zimbabwe constitution: Just a bit of paper?

South African gays take centre stage

Nigeria's ruling party's convention

UN to return to Burundi

Bissau military hold fire

Nile basin agreement on water cooperation

Congo Brazzaville defends peace initiative

African Media Watch

Liberia names new army chief