12 November 2013

Somalia: Tropical Cyclone Death Toll Tops 300, Fallen Bridge Hampers Rescue Efforts

Previous Somali flooding.

The death toll from a heavy tropical cyclone storm which hit Somalia's northeastern region of Puntland over the weekend could reach 300 people according to reliable sources as a key bridge connecting the capital Garowe to the port city of Bossaso collapsed following torrential rains late on Monday night, Garowe Online reports.

Officials said Tuesday that the extent of the devastation by the storm surge became apparent and preliminary reports confirm that nearly 300 people died in the coastal areas along cape Guardafu, Beyla and Nugal valley vicinities close to the Eyl coastal town, 1300 km North-east of Mogadishu.

Via irregular telephone, concerned residents of Eyl told Garowe Online that the cyclone whipped up waves of two to three metres, levelling seaside homes and washing away fishing boats while dozens of people were still missing.

Puntland Disaster management and Rescue Committee have not confirmed the figure as trucks loaded with 60 ton of food, clean water and blankets and Puntland government officials including Interior Minister Abdullahi Ahmed Jama Ilkajir are stuck in the Nugal region due to flash floods which made many areas inaccessible.

The emerging reports of the death seem a sharp increase from the initial estimates on Monday of at least 100 deaths.

Many people were killed in the remote towns on the Indian Ocean coast, either crushed in their homes or swept away by the flooding.

The collapse of Midigar Bridge, located at Sunijif village 60 km east of Puntland Capital of Garowe has hampered the rescue and relief efforts.

Midigar Bridge, an inter-connector for long range business transport further worsened the condition according to Puntland government officials and no detour has been prepared.

Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole has toured the fallen bridge, urging more help via airdrops for the victims.

President Farole said the rescue and relief efforts may rely on helicopters after the storm cut off roads and destroyed major road bridge.

300 People feared dead: Govt

Puntland Government's Disaster Management and Rescue Committee said in statement that 300 people are feared dead as the storm continues to wreak extraordinary damage in the coastal areas.

Continuing the statement read: "Eyl, Beyla, Dangorayo, Hafun, Alula, Rako Raho, and Jariban are among the most affected districts along the eastern and northern coasts. Many fishermen are missing and feared dead. The storm has destroyed entire villages, homes, buildings, and boats".

In an effort to increase the outreach and provide an emergency supplies consisting of non-perishable foods, blankets, tents and medicines , Puntland Marine Police Forces (PMPF) are using military transport trucks wherever possible .

On Tuesday morning, the government's committee which was appointed Monday by President Farole held the second meeting with UN and International aid agencies, discussing the relief efforts.

The cyclone is said to have whipped up waves of four to five metres and the cyclone the with life-threatening flooding is expected to continue until Wednesday.

This report has been updated since first published - Garowe Online editors

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