Three die retrieving phone from latrine

Friday March 14, 12:26 PM

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Three Kenyans have died trying to retrieve a mobile phone that slipped down an open-pit latrine while its owner answered a call of nature, a newspaper has reported.

Anxious to recover her phone, the owner in the coastal town of Mombasa offered 1,000 shillings (eight pounds) to anyone who would recover it, the Daily Nation said.

Well over half the Kenyan population of 30 million people lives on less than $1 (63 pence) a day.

The first to try -- a 30-year-old radio technician -- failed to resurface after disappearing down a ladder into the latrine.

His friend went after him but slipped and fell. The third casualty, trying to rescue the others, was hauled out of the pit by neighbours after he inhaled the fumes and lost consciousness.

The man was rushed to hospital but died on the way.

"The fumes inside must be extremely poisonous considering the short time it was taking to disable the retrievers," acting Mombasa police chief Peter Njenga was reported as saying.

The Daily Nation said police prevented a fourth man from climbing into the latrine and the search for the phone was eventually abandoned.

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