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Floods kill 24 as rains pound north Nigeria city
by Staff Writers
Abuja (AFP) June 23, 2011

Twenty-four people died overnight when unusually heavy rains flooded a neighbourhood in Nigeria's largest northern city of Kano, a local government chief said on Thursday.

Dozens of others were injured, 300 displaced and about 100 houses destroyed in the densely populated Fagge neighbourhood of Kano when rains pounded and inundated the city while residents were asleep.

"For now we have confirmed the deaths of 24 people from the floods that occurred Tuesday night through Wednesday following torrential rain in the city," Fagge local government administrator, Abdulmalik Ismail Rogo told AFP.

Rogo said local elders had told him the "area has never witnessed such torrential rains in the past 30 years."

"Some of the victims were buried alive when their (house) roofs collapsed on them, while others were washed away by the floods and deposited along a major sewer in the area," he said.

Fagge is a low-income neighbourhood of Kano, one of the country's largest cities with a population of around 12 million people.

The country's emergency services unit said its team was assessing the flood, but had so far recorded six deaths -- most of them children aged between two and 14 years. It said 276 people were affected.

A Red Cross emergency coordinator said his volunteers had also registered six deaths and 150 people were wounded.

Nigeria experienced severe flooding last year that affected around half a million people in two-thirds of its 36 states and killed scores of others, according to the emergency agency. The agency, NEMA, has also predicted unprecedented heavy rainfall and severe flooding this rainy season that has just begun.

West Africa has seen increasing floodings in recent years due mainly to climate change, with 2.2 million people affected in 2010 alone and more than 500 killed, according to the African Centre of Meteorological Application for Development (ACMAD).

ACMAD, which is organising a West African regional meeting on floods in the Nigerian capital Abuja this week, said following widespread flooding in the region, countries have turned attention on early warning and preparing vulnerable communities.

Andrea Diop, an expert with the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) told the meeting on Wednesday that meteorological and hydrological hazards were increasing "in frequency and occurrence ... leading to widespread human, material and environmental losses."

With at least 118 deaths, Nigeria last year recorded the highest floods-linked death toll followed by Ghana (52) and Benin (43).

The head of Nigeria's emergency agency, Muhammad Sani-Sidi, has meanwhile called on people living in flood-prone areas to temporarily relocate to higher grounds.

Several other urban areas, including the country's commercial hub of Lagos, have experienced flooding in recent days.

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