Monday, May 02, 2005

Ethiopia Flood Toll Rising

At least 134 people have been killed and nearly 250 000 displaced in massive floods that have hit southeast Ethiopia since last week, taking a huge toll on livestock and agriculture, officials said on Monday.

As torrential rains continued to pound portions of the country's Somali state, officials said 162 villages in 11 districts had been ravaged by raging waters of the Wabe Shebell River which burst its banks on April 23.

The officials stressed that the damage had not yet been fully assessed due to the fact that the flooding had made the already remote region even more isolated and difficult to reach.

They said the flood's toll on livestock and farmland had been particularly disastrous for the impoverished region where many villages rely entirely on subsistence agriculture to survive.

Disaster relief teams have had limited success in reaching flood-affected areas and in compiling accurate accounts of damage caused by the water, which has been exacerbated by the appearance of hungry crocodiles that have devoured nearly 10 people and hampered rescue efforts, officials said.


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