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Egypt, Sudan brace for Nile spate after Ethiopia floods

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Aug 26, 2006 (CAIRO) — Egypt and Sudan braced Saturday for a major spate on the Nile after the worst flooding in a generation killed more than 600 people in the Ethiopian highlands where the Blue Nile has its source.

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A boy gestures toward his flooded home Sunday Aug. 20, 2006, in the town of Sinja, about 500 Km south of Khartoum, Sudan. (AP)

"Special commissions in the (Egyptian) ministry of irrigation and water resources are meeting on a regular basis to follow the situation," ministry official Abdel Fattah Mutaweh told the leading state-owned daily Al-Ahram.

He said the Aswan dam would be used to contain the floodwaters in Lake Nasser on the southern border with Sudan.

The water level in the massive reservoir has already reached 171.21 metres, the official MENA news agency said, not far short of the high of 180 metres it reached in 1998, although officials expressed confidence it would not exceed it.

Upstream in Sudan, Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Kamal Ali Mohammed warned that the Nile spate would reach the centre and north of the country in the next three days.

The Blue Nile, which joins the White Nile flowing south from the Great Lakes at the capital Khartoum, recorded an uprecedented high of 14.02 metres at Deim on the Ethiopian border, Mohammed said.

The water flow rose from 785 million cubic metres on Thursday to 1.025 billion cubic metres on Friday, he added.

Other rivers that flow into Sudan from the highlands of neighbouring Ethiopia were also well above their seasonal levels, he said.

As well as killing 639 people, this month’s flash floods in Ethiopia have affected another 118,000 people, many of them left homeless, prompting the authorities in Addis Ababa to issue an urgent appeal to international donors for 61 million dollars (48 million euros) in emergency relief.

(ST/AFP)

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