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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Authorities Sound Alarm as Non-stop Rain Pounds Southeast Ethiopia

Ethiopian authorities warned of new deaths and damage as non-stop rains pounded parts of southeastern Ethiopia where devastating weekend floods have left at least 88 people dead and nearly 60,000 displaced.

The rain, which started early Thursday barred humanitarian assessment teams deployed in the affected Godie region of Ethiopia's remote Somali state, 1,380 kilometers (860 miles) southeast of Addis Ababa, from returning to compile reports, officials said.

"It has been raining since morning and this has complicated the efforts of the assessment teams that was sent to the affected areas," regional disaster prevention chief Abdullahi Mahdi told AFP from the regional capital of Jigiga.

"At the same time, the volume of the river is increasing in some areas and we are afraid that areas such as Mustahin, Kelafo and Ferfier (in Godie) will be submerged by water and this could bring the damage and deaths to people and now," he said.

At least 66 people were killed, 36,000 made homeless and more than 4,000 goats, 2,000 camels and several hundred cattle swept away in 36 villages in the two districts by raging waters from the Wabe Shebell river that burst its banks at the weekend after days of heavy rains, according to official figures.

In the Kebri Dahra area, some 1,040 kilometers from Addis Ababa, where 15 villages were submerged, 16 people have been confirmed dead, 900 others displaced and 1,000 domestic animals missing in the floods.

Around Mustahil, 1,480 kilometers from Addis Ababa six people were killed, several villages completely destroyed, some 20,000 people displaced and 317 head of cattle and 17 donkeys washed away, the figures, released on Wednesday, showed.

At least two people, among the dead, have been devoured by crocodiles the appearance of which are posing a new threat to the displaced, with survivors in some parts of the region still clinging to trees in desperate attempts to avoid being eaten.

Yahoo! News

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