Ten of 40 mentally ill patients who escaped from a psychiatric hospital in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, have been found, officials said.

Kenyan police have launched a search for 40 mentally ill patients who escaped from a psychiatric hospital in the capital Nairobi, officials say.

"We are now talking of 30 mental patients who are not back. Some have come back on their own volition while some were captured and brought back by their relatives," police chief Samuel Anampiu said.

About 70 patients overpowered guards and forced open the door of their ward in the Mathari Mental Hospital on Sunday morning, Samuel Anampiu, the local police chief, said on Monday.

Anampiu said two of the patients went back to the hospital voluntarily while eight others were taken back by their families.

Kevin Kemboi, a patient who was returned to the facility by family members, said he escaped after another patient told him that the hospital nurses were on strike.

"I just followed one of the patients ... then made my way home. At home I realised the environment was different. I felt like I was being disturbed by snakes and decided to go back. It is the place I need to be," he said.

Anampiu earlier announced that the police had all the details of the escapees which "will make it easy for us to identify them".

At least 35 others were stopped by guards from leaving after the initial breakout.

Anampiu told the Associated Press news agency that the patients had earlier complained that the drugs they were being given are ineffective.

The hospital lies close to the sprawling Mathare slum district of Nairobi.

Mental health care in Kenya suffers from a lack of funding. Poverty, a lack of access and the stigma associated with mental disorders prevent many patients from getting good assistance.

Source: Agencies