More than 600 killed in Nigeria’s worst flooding in a decade
NEWBORNS, Nigeria — A raging torrent of water swept across Nigeria’s delta in a weekend flood that authorities said had killed at least 600 people, including the deputy governor of a state in the country’s northwest.
The disaster triggered a massive humanitarian emergency that has put much of the country’s north under water.
The death toll was among the most high in a disaster in Africa, which has experienced only two other significant floods this year, both in the Central African Republic.
Two others drowned and another was missing after a boat they were traveling across sank in a raging river and exploded, a government spokesman said Monday. It wasn’t immediately clear whom among the dead was the deputy governor of Sokoto, a state in northwestern Nigeria.
In the past five years, this region has experienced the worst flooding in a decade.
The latest death toll, which included two of the dead, was the highest in a flood in Nigeria since September 2010, when a dam that supplied Lake Chad in northwest Chad burst, creating the world’s greatest man-made disaster.
A total of about 400,000 people in the delta region have been affected, affecting 600,000 people across the country, the deputy governor of Sokoto, Abubakar Mohammed Bekkeri, said in an interview. The U.N. refugee agency said about 160,000 people have been displaced by the flood.
It was the biggest in an already disastrous year for the region. So far in 2014, about 1.9 million people in the area have suffered from flooding and another 1.5 million have been affected by cyclones, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Bekkeri said the flood was so bad it took him three hours to reach the capital, Abuja.
The disaster struck on Friday night and spread on Saturday to neighboring Benue state, a region to the south. On Sunday, Bekkeri and his staff traveled through the flooded countryside by foot. He said the storm triggered two landslides that took away large portions of the area.
The flooding was so bad that people were able to walk on top of the water, he said. “Our life is in danger,” Bekkeri said.
The deputy governor said the army has reached the area and