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Blaze responders 'looted airport'

Officials in Kenya investigating a massive fire which gutted the arrivals hall at Nairobi's main airport have accused emergency services workers of looting during and after the blaze.

The officials said some first responders stole electronics and money from a cash machine. Another official said police guarding the site overnight attempted to a take a safe from a bank in the burned-out arrivals hall, which also houses several foreign currency exchange shops.

All four officials who described the alleged looting are close to the investigation.

The firefighting response to the inferno was criticised as slow and inadequate, but the officials could not definitely say the looting was carried out by firefighters. One official said there was now finger-pointing taking place between the police, fire department and army. Another official said specialised police units had attempted to steal the safe overnight.

The criminal investigations policeman for the airport, Joseph Ngisa, said he has not received formal complaints of theft and that police are waiting for affected institutions to report what they lost in the fire.

All public servants in Kenya, including police, firefighters and soldiers, are poorly paid and frequently accused of corruption. Police officers who guard the entrance to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport are well known in Nairobi for demanding bribes from taxi drivers and other vehicles with Kenyan drivers.

International flights, meanwhile, have resumed as officials improvised immigration and luggage routines.

Kenyan officials, assisted by members of the FBI, are investigating the cause of the fire. One of the security officials who spoke to the Associated Press said the investigation had ruled out terrorism and was now trying to determine if the fire was intentional or accidental.

Michael Kamau, the Cabinet secretary for transport and infrastructure, said Kenyan officials were receiving assistance from international agencies "because we intend to carry out a full investigation on what happened yesterday".

Mr Kamau said the design of the airport - constructed in the mid-1970s - made it challenging for firefighters to access certain areas with water hoses. He said he was "satisfied" by the response of firefighters from private companies but did not mention the airport firefighters, who responded slowly and whose equipment was not fully functioning.

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