East African floods cause destruction, claim lives

The death toll from catastrophic floods that have hit East Africa has risen to more than 250, aid workers said on Friday as rains continued to pound the impoverished region.

Floods have hit Kenya, Somalia, Rwanda and Ethiopia, with tens of thousands of people forced to flee their homes, aid agencies said. Disease from poor sanitation is also taking its toll.

Thousands remain cut off and trucks laden with food and medicines are stranded and unable to reach many survivors, according to the United Nations’ food agency.

The floods in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia have affected 1,8-million people, according to the UN’s refugee agency. Weather experts are warning the rains could continue through December.

East Africa is one of the poorest regions in the world, where most people live on less than $1 a day.
It is home to more than 200-million people and regularly sees droughts and famine. Experts say a long drought has left the soil so dry it is unable to absorb the heavy rains.

The UN is expected to launch an appeal next Tuesday for an extra $17-million for flood victims. The organisation already has received $10 million to help.

The Kenyan Red Cross said the flooding, which began earlier this month, should be declared a national disaster. So far government officials have been unwilling to declare an emergency.

The organisation said 41 people had been killed. More than 700 000 people have been affected and the health ministry has issued a cholera alert, the UN added.

More than 80 people have died in Ethiopia while 361 000 people have been affected in the south-east of the country. More than 100 000 people have lost their homes.

In neighbouring Somalia, the death toll rose to 116 after 20 people died in the north of the country in an outbreak of diarrhoea, said the UN. Fifteen people died in floods in Rwanda, officials said.—Sapa-AP

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