Home | News    Wednesday 11 July 2007

Floods kill 20, destroy 15,000 homes in Sudan

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July 10, 2007 (KHARTOUM, Sudan) — Flash floods across central and eastern Sudan have killed 20 people and destroyed 15,000 houses, the head of the civil defense authority said on Tuesday, predicting worse weather conditions to come.

Vehicles are surrounded by floods in Kassala, eastern Sudan Tuesday, July 10, 2007. (AP)

"Some 20 people have died so far," Hamadallah Adam Ali told reporters.

He added that damage to property and houses was enormous. "Nearly 15,000 houses collapsed," Ali said.

North Kordofan and White Nile States in central Sudan, Kassala in the east and Sennar in the southeast suffered the most damage, he added.

The government has announced a state of alert in the areas affected and sent tents to help victims.

"This year we received information from international weather stations that there will be heavy rains," Ali said.

More than 200 families were left stranded on Tuesday on the raised main road near the town of Um Dowanban, an hour’s drive east of Khartoum.

Mothers and children camped out on salvaged bed frames, surrounded by the few possessions rescued from their compounds as the floods hit.

The main road was their sanctuary from the flood waters.

As fresh rain clouds gathered in the afternoon, the lucky ones took shelter in tents provided by the Sudanese Red Crescent and the government’s civil defense forces.

"Everyone has lost everything — their homes, their possessions," said Siddig Omar, a 24-year-old student.

"A few civic groups have handed out food. There are a few tents. But the government is already moving out, taking the rest of its tents somewhere else. We need more help now."

Children on their way home from school waded knee-deep in the water. The stagnant water raised fears of water-borne diseases and malaria.

Officials blamed residents for not heeding warnings to evacuate before the rains began to fall.

Some of the houses were built in the path of floods or too close to rivers in violation of the law, Ali said.

"We advise them not to live in these places, not to build in these places," he said.

Last year the river Nile reached levels in Khartoum higher than both 1988 and 1946 when the worst floods of the century hit Sudan.

Government sources said at least 27 were killed in 2006 and almost 10,000 houses were partially or completely destroyed.

(Reuters)

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