Saturday , June 22 2024

Kenyan Military deployed as East Africa floods kill hundreds


NAIROBI: Kenya’s military was deployed on Thursday to rescue victims of heavy rains that have killed hundreds of people across East Africa over the past month.

At least 45 people have died in the floods in Kenya since March, including dozens since Monday, the Kenya Red Cross said. Large parts of the capital Nairobi and other major towns are underwater, forcing thousands of residents to leave their homes.

Collins Obondo, 38, lost at least four relatives in the flooding on Wednesday in Nairobi’s densely-populated Mathare neighborhood, which lies along the Nairobi River.

“The body of my mother’s neighbor was trapped right across here and it seemed as though my cousin held her ankle with her head lodged between her thighs,” he told media as he sifted through the remnants of his mother’s collapsed house.

In neighboring Tanzania, the death toll from the rains has reached 155, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa told parliament on Thursday. Hundreds of thousands have had to flee their homes in Burundi.

East Africa was hit by record floods during the last rainy season in late 2023. Scientists say climate change is causing more intense and frequent extreme weather events.

Kenyan President William Ruto said at a meeting with senior government officials that the military was deploying to help with rescue operations. His deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, said a multi-agency emergency response centre would be activated on Thursday afternoon.

Gachagua said above-normal rainfall was forecast for the next week.

Flooding in Tanzania caused by weeks of heavy rain has killed 155 people and affected more than 200,000 others, the prime minister said Thursday.

That is more than double the number of deaths reported two weeks ago as the amount of rainfall increases, especially in the coastal region and the capital, Dar es Salaam.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa told parliament that the El Niño climate pattern has worsened the ongoing rainy season, causing the flooding and destroying roads, bridges and railways. Flooded schools have been closed and emergency services have rescued people marooned by the flood waters.

Majaliwa warned those living in low-lying areas to move to higher ground and urged district officials to ensure that provisions meant for those whose homes were washed away go to those in need of the supplies. He said more than 51,000 households have been affected by the rains.

The East African region is experiencing heavy rains, with flooding also reported in neighboring Burundi and Kenya.

In Kenya, 35 people were reported dead as of Monday, and the number was expected to increase as flooding continues across the country.

In the Mathare slum in the capital, Nairobi, at least four bodies were retrieved from flooded houses on Wednesday. Local media reported that more bodies were retrieved from the Mathare River.

Kenyan President William Ruto chaired a multi-agency flood response meeting on Thursday and directed the National Youth Service to provide land for people in flood-affected areas. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)

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