Seven people were killed Wednesday and several others injured when a three-storey building under construction collapsed at Mwembe in Kisii town.
Rescuers, mostly using rudimentary tools, pulled 18 people from the rubble and rushed them to the nearby Christa Marianne Mission and Kisii Teaching and Referral hospitals.
The National Construction Authority (NCA) said the building was among dozens whose owners had been warned to stop further construction because they had violated the building code.
The bodies of the six, all male, including a class six pupil, were pulled out of the rubble, even as those trapped in called for help.
Two men and a child died during the rescue.
Disaster officials in Kisii County, led by Mr Julius Tinega, said about 25 workers were on site when the building came tumbling down at 8.15am.
“So far we have rescued 18 people, most of them with chest injuries. We are working round the clock to ensure those trapped are rescued,” said Mr Tinega.
County disaster staff, Red Cross and volunteers from a group of boda boda riders worked to rescue them.
About 20 people are admitted to the Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital and another five to Christa Marianne.
Acting county Chief of Health Raymond Oigara said the number of those receiving treatment is expected to rise as rescue operations continue.
“We have a few critical cases we are handling and we are trying to ensure they are out of danger,” he told the Nation.
First witnesses at the scene said they saw several people on top of the building before it came tumbling down.
Mr Julius Orare, who lives a few metres from the collapsed building, said he was taking a shower when he heard a tremor.
“I peeped through the bathroom window and saw the building in a heap,” he said.
A survivor, Mr Fidelis Onduso, who is nursing injuries, said he heard a huge bang.
“When I looked up, the house fell on me but luckily I was saved by well-wishers who rushed me to hospital,” he said.
At least two women said their husbands worked at the site and they are yet to know if they are alive.
“He told me he was heading there. I have checked at the hospitals and could not find him,” said one of the women who identified herself as Jane.
There were conflicting reports on the number of floors in the building, with other sources putting them at six.
NCA officials said they had given the owner a notice last month to stop work on the site, citing poor workmanship and not filing reports with the agency.
The agency’s boss, Mr Lucas Adwera, said the owner, an accountant at a local hospital, failed to heed the NCA advice.
“We even copied this issue to the police and it is unfortunate that they did not act,” said Mr Adwera.
Kisii Governor James Ongwae visited the scene and offered condolences even as he promised investigations into the matter.