Benin floods kill 43, leave nearly 100,000 homeless: UN
Cotonou (AFP) Oct 18, 2010
Flooding in the West African nation of Benin has killed 43 people and left nearly 100,000 homeless, a UN official said Monday, citing numbers collected since the beginning of October.
"Over about the first 15 days of the month of October, a UN mission has traveled the country's 77 communes and counted 43 deaths due to continued flooding," Kemoral Jadjombaye, an official with the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told AFP.
"The deaths were caused by either drowning or the collapse of homes."
He also said that 97,815 people were homeless, while nearly 360,000 were affected and more than 55,000 homes were destroyed.
Nearly two-thirds of the nation were hit by flooding, a statement issued by the UN said, adding that the humanitarian situation was "becoming increasingly worrying", with the country in need of emergency shelter, food and clean water.
A survey of the city of Cotonou, the economic capital, and of the country's south by helicopter showed "that the crisis has been underestimated", according to the statement.
"Out of the country's 77 communes, 42 are completely inundated," said Jadjombaye.
A cholera outbreak has added to the misery, with 800 cases counted across Benin, including seven deaths, he said.
"With the floods, an upsurge in the epidemic and water-borne illnesses is feared across the country," the statement said.
Benin borders Nigeria and has a population of some 8.8 million.
Cotonou is low-lying and deals with yearly flooding. The Oueme river often overflows, typically affecting thousands of people.
An increasing number of people have moved into floodplains, exacerbating the problem.
Floods have hit a wide swathe of West Africa this rainy season, including Nigeria, where entire villages have been destroyed and scores have been left homeless, particularly in the country's north.
Farms have also been ruined and officials have expressed concern over how the flooding will affect food supply. Nigeria's north has seen a deadly cholera outbreak this year as well.
In Niger, the UN said in late August that floods had left nearly 200,000 people homeless. The country had already been dealing with a severe food crisis.
earlier related report
Among the eight bodies found in the streets of the capital after several days of heavy rains were a two-year-old girl and an 11-month-old baby, the head of the civil protection unit Nadia Lochard said.
She added that it seemed the eight people had been killed when a large pile of sand gave way, burying them. The bodies were then washed down the street.
Two other bodies were found in the district of Fontmara, outside the city, the site of a large camp sheltering those who lost their homes in the January 12 quake.
Three people were still missing in the capital, Port-au-Prince.
The quake measuring 7.0 ravaged Port-au-Prince in January, killing more than 250,000 Haitians and leaving 1.2 million homeless in the impoverished Caribbean nation.
The town of Leogane, some 32 kilometers (20 miles) south of Port-au-Prince, which was 80 percent destroyed in the quake, has been particularly hard hit by the rains.
"More than 4,000 families living in tents have been affected and some 270 homes have been flooded," the protection service said.
International aid organizations, working to help rebuild the country, were on Monday ferrying help to the victims of the rains.
"Numerous destroyed tents have been replaced and clothing and food have been given to devastated families," an official said.
The heavy rains have left many roads impassable, and more misery is on the way with new rains forecast in the coming days.
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At least 11 people died in southern Russia in a flash flood triggered by strong rains, a regional official told RIA Novosti news agency Saturday. "According to the latest information, 11 people have been killed and three are reported missing" following an early morning flood near Tuapse, a Black Sea coastal town in Russia's Krasnodar region, Vladimir Prigoda was quoted as saying. "Seven ... read more
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