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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenya counts losses as deadly floods destroy critical infrastructure

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya is grappling with the aftermath of flash floods that intensified last week and have claimed dozens of lives while destroying critical infrastructure like roads and power lines.

The torrential rains that started in the middle of March are to blame for unprecedented flooding accompanied by displacement of thousands of people in low-lying parts of the country.

Statistics from state agencies and Kenya Red Cross indicate that more than 20 people have died as a result of flash floods while property worth millions of dollars has been destroyed.

The meteorological department has predicted the heavy downpours will peak later in April and subside in early May.

Kenya’s preparedness to handle emergency disasters has been tested to the limits as raging floods cut off major road networks, destroy crops and uproot rural dwellers from their homes.

The low-lying plains in northern Kenya, the southeastern and coast regions have borne the brunt of flooding.

Likewise, counties in western Kenya neighboring Lake Victoria have in the last few days experienced heavy flooding and displacement of population.

The main highway connecting the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, with the coastal city of Mombasa has been experiencing frequent gridlocks due to heavy flooding.

In the last few days, traveling to the world-famous Maasai Mara game reserve, located in northwest Kenya, has been a nightmare as flooding cut off a major road leading to the tourist site.

The transport corridor linking Nairobi to western Kenya and the greater eastern and central African region has also been affected by flash floods that have disrupted flow of public service vehicles and cargo trucks.

As heavy rains intensify in many parts of the country, relief agencies have warned of a looming disease outbreak.

Local authorities in western Kenyan counties affected by floods and displacement of populations have requested additional resources from the central government to help prevent a cholera outbreak.

Major cities like Nairobi and Mombasa have not been spared the negative impacts of flash floods, as evidenced by traffic snarl-ups and clogged sewers.

The conflict-prone northeastern part of Kenya is also experiencing raging floods that have rendered roads impassable.

Local media reported on Monday that floods continued to wreak havoc in northeastern counties of Mandera, Wajir and Garissa, triggering a humanitarian crisis.

Heavy floods in this vast region already grappling with insecurity hindered supply of essential commodities like food, medicine and fuel.

Local administrators urged local communities to vacate their homes and move to higher grounds in order to escape the wrath of flash floods.

As Kenya grapples with negative impacts of flooding, experts have called on the government and regional and international partners to invest in durable measures like dykes and dams in the country’s low-lying plains.

John Kioli, a climate expert, said enactment of a national policy on rainwater harvesting, coupled with restoration of vital ecosystems like forests and wetlands, are key to cushioning the country against destructive flash floods.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

Disasters caused by heavy rains kill 41, injure over 160 in Rwanda since March

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- At least 41 people were killed and more than 160 others were injured across Rwanda by disasters triggered by heavy rains since March, Rwanda’s Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs said on Monday.

The disasters also killed more than 600 animals, destroyed property including school structures, more than 3,000 houses and more than 1,700 hectares of plantations, said Philippe Habinshuti, director of disaster response and recovery of the ministry.

The destruction and deaths were mainly caused by floods and lightning, Habinshuti told media.

Relief efforts are ongoing but the government appealed to residents living in high risk zones to relocate to safer areas, he said.

In 2017, disasters caused by heavy rains killed 82 people and injured 151. More than 5,000 houses were destroyed while over 5,000 hectares of different plantations were also ruined.

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Heavy rains kill nine people in Tanzania

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- At least nine people have been killed in Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam by heavy rains pounding the city of five million people for three consecutive days, police said on Monday.

Lazaro Mambosasa, the Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander, said the nine were killed by flash floods and falling walls.

“The victims include children, women and men and the number might rise as the rains continue pounding the city,” he told a news conference after he had conducted air patrol by an helicopter.

Mambosasa said most areas of the capital have been submerged in the rains that started on Saturday.

He said authorities, including the Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA), had warned people living in low areas to move out of the areas but most of them did not take the warning seriously.

Paul Makonda, the Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, ordered on Monday public schools to close to avoid more casualties from the rains.

“It is not convenient to send children to schools in this situation where vehicles are prone to accidents and infrastructure of some schools have been destroyed,” said Makonda.

The Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (DART), a public transport firm, suspended its operations, bringing transport to a standstill. The suspension left many city residents stranded as they failed to report for work.

According to a statement released last week by the TMA, the rains were expected to continue for some time.

The statement mentioned the hardest hit regions as Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Coast, Kilimanjaro, Manyara, Arusha, and Morogoro.

Others were Mwanza, Mara, Kagera, Geita, Kigoma, Katavi, Tabora, Shinyanga, Simiyu, Lindi, and Mtwara.

In April last year, a 24-hour deluge in Dar es Salaam resulted in the deaths of at least two people and displacement of hundreds as business almost came to a standstill.

             

 

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