by Staff Writers
Jos, Nigeria (AFP) July 23, 2012
Heavy rainfall in central Nigeria forced a dam to overflow, causing flooding that left at least 35 people dead and destroyed or damaged some 200 homes, the Red Cross said Monday.
"We have recovered the bodies of 35 people that drowned in the overnight flooding," said Manasie Phampe, head of the Red Cross in Plateau state, where Jos is the capital. "About 200 homes have either been submerged or destroyed."
The confirmed victims so far included a 90-year-old woman and a three-month-old baby, adding that the toll could rise, he said.
"Rainwater and water from the Lamingo dam which overflowed swept across several neighbourhoods in the city," he explained. "We are still searching for more bodies as many people have been declared missing."
The downpour in Jos began at roughly 9:00 pm (2000 GMT) Sunday when many of the city's residents were at home for the night.
"I have lost seven of my children in this disaster," said Alhaji Abdulhamid Useini, who described heavy rain pounding his neighbourhood for nearly three hours, which also swept away some of his livestock.
The area coordinator for the National Emergency Agency (NEMA), Alhassan Danjuma Aliyu, called the flood "devastating" and said police and other rescue bodies were searching the affected areas in hopes of finding survivors.
NEMA was also trying to quickly bring in added relief materials to care for those who lost their homes, Aliyu explained.
"We hope to get these materials to them before the end of today," he said.
The head of search and rescue committee of the Muslim community in Jos, Sani Shuaibu, said the search was still on for 25 bodies still missing.
"We are still looking for 25 other bodies that are still missing and the figure of the missing may rise as families come forward to register their missing family members," he said.
"Most of the dead were children between three months and 13 years that were swept away by the flooding in their sleep. We picked the drowned along the river bank... We have two camps where around 700 displaced people are sheltering with little food and water supplies."
Much of the country has been affected by heavy seasonal rainfall, including Jos in the centre of the country and the economic capital Lagos in the south, where flooding has caused several road closures and other damage.
The rainy season typically runs from March to September.
Last week, at least three people were killed by flood waters some 150 kilometres (90 miles) north of Lagos in Ibadan, an area where 102 people 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 papers have in recent weeks been filled with commentary criticising officials for failing to put in place measures to mitigate the impact of the annual, often severe floods.
The largest cities in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, are overcrowded, with many residents living in haphazardly constructed slums.
Drainage systems are also often poorly maintained and contribute to the problem of floods.
In 2010, flooding affected roughly half a million people in two-thirds of Nigeria's 36 states.
Africa News - Resources, Health, Food
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US suspends aid to Rwanda amid DR Congo violence
Washington (AFP) July 22, 2012
The United States announced Sunday it will suspend military aid to Rwanda on allegations that the southern African nation is backing the rebellion in the neighboring DR Congo. "In light of information that Rwanda is supporting armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Department of State has decided it can no longer provide Foreign Military Financing (FMF) appropriated ... read more
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