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Page last updated at 16:15 GMT, Wednesday, 3 September 2008 17:15 UK

'Snowfall' shocks Kenyan village

Villagers walking across white fields

Residents of a village in central Kenya were shocked to see a blanket of hail resembling snow covering their land.

"I have not seen such a thing ever since I was born," said one resident of Nyahururu.

"Where shall we graze our cattle now? We do not know when this thing will melt," said another.

The Meteorological Department dismissed claims that the area had experienced snowfall, saying it was just hail which did not melt because of cold weather.

There is snow in Kenya - but only on the summit of the nearby Mount Kenya.

The storm caused widespread damage to food crops, grazing fields and greenhouses at a nearby flower farm.

The hail covered 100 acres (40ha) of land and was at least four inches deep, privately-owned NTV station reported.

'Looks like stone'

"You can see this is heavy, it's not powdery the way you'd expect snow to be," said Samuel Mwangi, the assistant director for weather forecasting at the Meteorological Department. "Nyahururu is cooler so when the hail falls, it will tend to linger for hours on the ground," he said.

James Kariuki, a local journalist, said at least 50 acres (20ha) of maize and 10 greenhouses at a flower farm were damaged by the storm.

Many of the villagers said they had never witnessed such an occurrence.

"This is not even rain, it is something that just fell suddenly. Even if you try digging into it, you will not find any water, it just looks like stone," one villager said.

Mr Mwangi said that parts of western Kenya frequently experience hail storms, but there the stones melt instantly due to high temperatures.


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