Sunday April 21 2013

Kenya floods kill 63 people

Residents of Kano plains seek refuge on

Residents of Kano plains seek refuge on higher ground recently after floods submerged their houses. PHOTO BY AFP  

By MIKE KALAMA & Agencies

At least 63 people have been killed and tens of thousands more displaced by floods following heavy rains in Kenya, Deputy President William Ruto said on Thursday.

Mr Ruto ordered the military to participate in evacuating affected persons. “It is unfortunate that we have lost 63 people as of today (Thursday) due to floods and about 35,000 have been displaced across the country,” he said.

“The government is fully in-charge and we have asked citizens in areas prone to floods to move to higher ground. All government officials have also been mobilised to ensure that citizens are given information in good time,” said Mr Ruto at a military airbase in Nairobi as he watched five tonnes of food and other essential items being prepared to be flown to affected areas.

Dozens of people die every year during Kenya’s rainy season, which usually lasts from March to May. Kenya’s army said it had flown aid deliveries to the central town of Isiolo and despatched helicopters to drop food in northeastern areas where the flooding has made roads impassable. Areas across Kenya have been affected as the heavy rains have damaged roads and property.

Parts of Kenya suffered from extreme drought in 2011 — like the wider Horn of Africa region, including parts of war-torn southern Somalia where famine was declared — and farmers are welcoming the heavy rains.
However, traders are also struggling because of the impassable roads.
Parts of southern Somalia have also been affected, with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warning that floods have hampered aid deliveries.

Several thousand people have been forced from their homes in areas along southern Somalia’s Shabelle river, with five children reportedly killed in recent weeks, the United Nations added. However, the heavy rains could also “bode well for the harvest”, OCHA noted.