August 1, 2007

Flooding in Kassala leaves hundreds homeless

Heavy rains and flooding have killed at least 30 people and destroyed over 15,000 homes in central and eastern Sudan. Rain has been steady for weeks, but the strong rains, which began Sunday evening and continued Wednesday July 11, destroyed at least 4,680 homes in Khartoum alone. The Nile River is expected to peak in Khartoum at higher levels than in previous record years (1946, 1988).

In Kassala State, the Gash River, which has tributaries in the Ethiopian and Eritrean highlands, has risen to such a level that hundreds of families have been stranded.

"As an immediate first step to help, the UN World Food Program plans to distribute food to 20,000 people in five locations near the city of Kassala, close to the Eritrean border, where the Gash River has burst its banks," a WFP statement said.

"WFP has 3,000 metric tonnes of food stockpiled in Kassala, enough to feed the flood victims for three weeks," it added.

United Nations agencies and NGOs like the Red Crescent Society are distributing plastic sheeting, blankets, cooking sets and mosquito nets.

Oxfam has been helping improve the drainage system in Tokar, which was affected by floods in 2006. About 90 km [55 miles] southeast of Suakin, and 30 km [18 miles] from the coast at Trinkitat, Tokar sits in a fertile valley plain that is surrounded by hills, so wells are full and crops are plentiful in normal conditions.

In other parts of Africa, heavy rains have caused dormant larvae to hatch and swarms of locusts have infested farmland the Horn of Africa region.

Weather forecasts predict continued heavy rain.

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