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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Ethiopian Floods Displace 260,000

The death toll from more than a week of devastating floods in south-eastern Ethiopia has risen to at least 154 with nearly 260,000 people left homeless.

In addition to the deaths and damage to the region's human population, the raging waters have taken a huge toll on livestock and agriculture in the remote, impoverished region, officials said.

"The death toll has now reached 154," said Ramadan Hajji, the emergency relief coordinator for Somali state, 1,380 kilometres from Addis Ababa, where the flooding has been centred.

As heavy rain continued to pound the state, officials said they had recorded 258,162 people displaced from 229 villages in 11 districts since April 23 when the Wabe Shebell river, swelled by the downpours, burst its banks.

"Continuing rains and the rising level of water are hampering efforts of rescue workers and keeping them from accessing affected areas," Mr Ramadan said.

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

ABC Online

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