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Mystery scary sinkhole in Kenya? No, water flowing into submerged culvert after floods

This article is more than 4 years old

An eye-catching video shared on social media shows water and large clumps of reeds being sucked into two swirling underwater holes.

“Scary sinkhole in Bomet county,” it’s captioned on YouTube. The spectacle also made its way to Twitter, where it attracted more than 750,000 views. 

A Facebook post describes it as: “Sinkhole report at Daraja Sita in Bomet County, Kenya. This is internal erosion caused by limestone below the earth surface being dissolved by underground water.”

A search for “Sinkhole in Bomet” on Facebook brought up several other posts describing the video as showing a sinkhole in Bomet county. Some say it appeared on 30 April 2020.

A screenshot of the video.

Voices heard in the video confirm that it was shot in Kenya. The language spoken is that of the Kipsigis, a group in Kenya’s Kalenjin community.

The Kalenjin, a Nilotic people, live mainly in what was formerly the Rift Valley province and are known globally for their athletic achievements.

But does the video show water sweeping reeds into a sinkhole - a depression in the ground that has no natural external surface drainage? We checked.

‘It is a swampy place’

Africa Check contacted Kipyegon Chirchir, the Bomet county government spokesperson, and shared the video with him. We asked if it showed a sinkhole in the county.

“This happened in the border between Bomet and Kericho counties at a place called Daraja Sita. There is a box culvert somewhere on the tarmac road that was submerged and those reeds from the swamp were being consumed through that box culvert. It is a swampy place,” he told us.

“But people were imagining that it was being consumed underground. It happened after long rains that lasted almost two to three hours and the place was flooded. No one was injured.”

Water sucked into culverts

The video was also posted on the SayAfrica Twitter account. We contacted the account holder and were referred to Kenneth Cheruiyot, the Bomet resident who had supplied the video.

We asked Cheruiyot what happened that day.

“Yes, I am the one who took the video. It happened after heavy rains in April, 2020 where reeds and other objects were uprooted and swept away by water. It was in a place called Daraja Sita near Sotik around the border between Kericho and Bomet Counties,” he said. 

“The water with the reeds was trying to cross a bridge that was flooded with water to the opposite side and was getting sucked into culverts below. It was not a sinkhole.” 


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