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15 killed as flooding hits Kenya

By AFP - Nov 06,2023 - Last updated at Nov 06,2023

NAIROBI — At least 15 people have died in Kenya as floods swept away scores of houses and devastated farmland following torrential rains, the Red Cross said on Monday. 

Heavy rainfall has pounded the country, particularly the bone-dry north, in recent days, and sent water gushing into homes and submerging roads, with similar scenes playing out across other parts of East Africa. 

“As of yesterday, 15,264 households have been affected, with 15 casualties reported,” the Kenya Red Cross said on X, formerly Twitter. 

More than 1,000 livestock have died while at least 97 hectares of agricultural farmland have been destroyed, it added. 

The UN’s humanitarian agency, OCHA, said last month that eastern Africa would likely encounter heavier than normal rains over the October-December period because of the El Nino phenomenon.

Kenya’s Meteorological Department also warned last week that the heavy rains were “likely to be accompanied by gusty winds”.

“The strong winds may blow off roofs, uproot trees and cause structural damages,” it said in an advisory. 

Images broadcast on local media have shown flood waters inundating entire villages and sending residents fleeing for higher ground. 

Dramatic footage showed a civilian chopper rescuing people from a lorry marooned in Samburu county, some 300 kilometres north of the capital Nairobi. 

El Nino is a naturally occurring weather pattern associated with increased heat worldwide, as well as drought in some parts of the world and heavy rains elsewhere. 

Since the start of the current rainy season, more than 20 people have died and over 12,000 others have been forced out of their homes in Ethiopia’s Somali region due to flash flooding, the regional government said at the weekend. 

At least 14 people have also been killed in Somalia, OCHA said in a situation report released on Saturday.

“At least 47,100 people have relocated to higher grounds to avoid the risk of flooding,” the agency said, adding that the downpours had cut off access to markets and farmland in some areas.

The Horn of Africa is one of the regions most vulnerable to climate change, and extreme weather events are occurring with increased frequency and intensity. 

Since late 2020, Somalia as well as parts of Ethiopia and Kenya have been suffering the region’s worst drought in 40 years. 

At the end of 2019, at least 265 people died and tens of thousands were displaced during two months of relentless rainfall in several countries in East Africa. 

The extreme weather affected close to two million people and washed away tens of thousands of livestock in Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

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