Home | News    Monday 4 August 2003

Sudan President Visits Flooded Areas, Death Toll Put At 12

AP

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP)—The death toll in eastern Sudan’s devastating floods has risen to 12, according to the International Red Cross, as Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir visited the flood ravaged region on Monday where tens of thousands have been left homeless.

The government’s humanitarian agency said on Sunday that 700 houses had collapsed and 70% of the city of Kassala, 400 kilometers east of Khartoum, had been flooded, leaving 80% of the population homeless.

"Tents, plastic sheeting, blankets, cooking utensils, generators and mosquito nets are urgently needed," said Mohammed Mukhier, the regional disaster preparedness delegate for The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. "Medicines are vital, too," he said in a statement.

El-Bashir visited Kassala Monday to survey the damage and direct aid efforts, Sudan’s official news agency reported.

The spokesman for the International Red Cross in neighboring Kenya, Pekka Reinikainen, citing Sudanese Red Crescent officials in Kassala, told The Associated Press on Monday that 12 people have died in the area since Wednesday. Government officials on Sunday put the death toll at four. The difference in the tolls couldn’t be immediately reconciled.

Exact details of the human toll taken by the floods remains unclear as most communications have been cut to the remote mountainous region by flooding and heavy rains.

Reinikainen said a Red Cross emergency response team was expected to reach Kassala within two days with the capacity to provide water for 40,000 people.

The Red Cross estimates there are 450,000 inhabitants in Kassala, plus 60,000 internally displaced people from neighboring rural areas due to the civil conflicts and 24,000 refugees from Eritrea.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies announced Monday that it is releasing emergency funds of CHF200,000 and will launch a preliminary appeal to help flood victims.

Sudan’s daily Al-Anba reported Sunday that the government has begun a relief effort and flown in 100 metric tons of relief supplies on Saturday.

The Al-Gash River began rising steadily late Wednesday morning before breaking through its dikes and pouring into Kassala. Water levels were still rising and more rain was forecast for the region and the highlands of Eritrea were the region’s waterways originate.

The annual flooding of Sudan’s rivers regularly causes humanitarian crises.