Reporting Mary Bubala
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Stranded in Kenya. A massive fire at the Nairobi Airport traps nearly a dozen Marylanders on aid trips to Africa.
Mary Bubala has the latest.
International flights have resumed, but it still could take days for them to get home.
A huge fire engulfed Kenya’s main airport on Wednesday, forcing the suspension of international flights and choking a vital travel gateway to east Africa.
Several Maryland aid workers were in all the chaos.
“They let us out on the tarmac. And basically was only one international terminal which was completely in flames and destroyed,” said Katie Price, Catholic Relief Services.
Katie Price, an aid worker for Catholic charities based in Baltimore, had just arrived. She was one of the hundreds of passengers watching the fire grow.
“We just waited for hours and watched the airport up in flames. It was a pretty incredible, incredible sight,” Price said. “The pilot announced that they learned the fuel line was underneath our plane, underneath the tarmac, so that they needed to remove us right away. All our hearts skipped a beat, I’m sure.”
J.D. Snyder, 22, is stuck in Kenya as well with Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna. His group was on the way to the Nairobi Airport when the fire broke out. J.D.’s mom watched it all unfold here in Maryland.
“My first thought was, ‘Who blew this up?’ I mean, they’re still not saying whether they know this was somebody or not. So that’s scary too,” said Sue Snyder, J.D.’s mother.
All 10 Maryland volunteers with Habitat for Humanity are now in limbo, hoping for a flight back home soon.
“At this point, they don’t know when. But they’re safe, they’re happy and they’re just waiting,” said Karen Blanford, Habitat for Humanity.
International flights are now back in the air, but many could be delayed for days because of the backlog of departing flights.
“I’m still in Nairobi,” Price said. “There were some flights that made it out today, mostly back to Europe. I’m hoping for tomorrow.”
Investigators say it’s too early to know what started the fire, but they have ruled out terrorism.
Part of the investigation now includes first responders to the fire. They are accused of looting electronics and ATMs during and after the blaze.