by Staff Writers
Jos, Nigeria (AFP) Aug 14, 2012
Flooding caused by heavy rains in central Nigeria has killed at least 28 people, with many others still missing, while also destroying homes, bridges and farmland, officials said Tuesday.
"I have counted 28 bodies and many people are still missing after the flood," said Kemi Nshe, local government chairman for the Shendam district in central Nigeria's Plateau state.
He said some 1,500 people were displaced from the rains, the worst of which occurred Sunday.
A Red Cross official in the area said relief workers were having difficulties accessing flooded areas, which he said included around five communities. He said heavy rain began Saturday night and continued into Sunday.
"Flooding has affected close to five (districts), and a lot of bridges have been broken, a lot of people have lost their houses," said Manasseh Panpe.
He said a Red Cross team was able to visit one displaced camp so far where more than 200 people had relocated to.
"They need blankets," said Panpe. "They need food, water."
Last month in another area of Plateau state, heavy rainfall forced a dam to overflow, causing flooding that left at least 35 people dead and destroyed or damaged some 200 homes.
Much of Africa's most populous nation has been affected by heavy seasonal rainfall, and officials have warned more flooding is likely to occur in a number of areas in the coming days.
The rainy season typically runs from March to September.
Also in July, at least three people were killed by flood waters some 150 kilometres (90 miles) north of the economic capital Lagos in Ibadan, an area of southwestern Nigeria where 102 died following torrential rains last year.
At least 20 people died from flooding in Lagos last year, while 24 were killed after rains inundated a neighbourhood in Nigeria's largest northern city of Kano.
Nigerian officials have faced criticism for failing to put in place measures to mitigate the impact of the annual, often severe floods.
The largest cities in Nigeria are overcrowded, with many residents living in haphazardly constructed slums. Drainage systems are also often poorly maintained and contribute to the problem.
In 2010, flooding affected roughly half a million people in two-thirds of Nigeria's 36 states.
Seasonal flooding also affects the west African region, with 2010 having been a particularly harsh year.
More than 300 people were killed in the 2010 rainy season in western and central Africa and at least 680,000 people were affected by the floods in neighbouring Benin, a country of some nine million.
The flooding also raises the risk of the spread of diseases such as cholera.
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