Saturday, April 30, 2005

Crocs, Floods, Hit Ethiopia

Ethiopian authorities on Friday pleaded for help in dealing with devastating floods that have swept through the country's southeast as the death toll from water and crocodiles rose to at least 107.

At least 99 people have drowned in the flooding that began at the weekend and another eight have been devoured by crocodiles that have taken to raging waters of the Wabe Shebell river since it burst its banks on Saturday, officials said.

"We need some support mainly in small boats to move people to safe and high lands, more blankets, plastic sheeting and cooking utensils, including cups and plates," said the regional disaster chief of Ethiopia's southeastern Somali state, 1 380km from Addis Ababa.

In one area alone, near Kelafo in Somali state's Godie district, eight people were eaten by crocodiles and seven washed away by the waters which submerged 84 villages, said the official, Abdullahi Mahdi, from the regional capital of Jigiga.

"Due to the continuing of heavy rain in the highland up north and within the affected areas... the death toll has increased in the lowland areas down stream in Deghabur," he said.

Deghabur is about 800km southeast of Addis Ababa.

About 60 000 people have so far been displaced in the region, but continued heavy rains and breakdowns in communications have hindered updates from humanitarian teams so the death toll and number of homeless may be higher, officials said.

The downpours have also affected travel as roads have been closed and bridges cut off, they said.


How You Can Help
Contribute to the World Food Programme.

Did You Know?
The Wabe Shebelle stretches for over 1,340 km and is Ethiopia's largest river, with a water catchment area of 200,000 km.

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