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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Somaliland - Cyclone Sagar wreaks havoc in Awdal

(ERGO) – Forty three people are known to have died in the tropical storm that hit coastal areas of Awdal and North West region on 19 May and 10 people are reported missing, according to local authorities.





The commissioner of Awdal region, Abdirahman Ahmed Ali, said the deaths were recorded in Baki, Lughaya, and Gargaara. The bodies of the victims were found in the valley after being washed down by flood waters.

More people are thought to have died in buildings that collapsed though these figures remain unconfirmed.

Gargaara, 20 km south of Lughaya, was the worst affected.  Around 800 houses were destroyed, the local chief Abdullahi Ali Nur told Radio Ergo. He said by phone that there is a severe lack of shelter for the people affected, who have not moved far away but instead have camped on higher ground in Gargaara.

The chief said all the roads connecting Lughaya, Abdi-Geedi, Ido-Adays and El-la-helay have been made impassable by floods. This has prevented aid workers from accessing affected communities by road. The only means of access has been by helicopter.

An estimated 669,000 people have been displaced from Awdal and North West region, according to a statement from the Somaliland government issued on 21 May. These people lack food, shelter and medical attention and have lost 80 per cent of their livestock.

Chief Abdullahi said they have registered 9,000 families displaced in Lughaya and Gargaara. They will continue the registration process daily and share statistics with government and humanitarian agencies.

Most of the 33 schools in the area were either destroyed or had their roofs damaged. Awdal and North West region have 25,000 children enrolled, according to Somaliland education ministry.

Radio Ergo and other radios aired warnings of the approach of tropical cyclone Sagar.  Before the phones lines went down after the storm struck, Radio Ergo spoke to listener Hussein Elmi Warsame, who lives in Kurure village in Lughaya.

He said he tried to act on the early warning and preparedness advice he heard on Radio Ergo about measures he could take to protect his livestock.

“I collected wood and branches to strengthen the shelters for my livestock because I didn’t have any plastic sheeting. I also alerted my neighbours and people close to me. I called around 15 people by phone and passed on the messages from the radio to them,” Hussein said.

However, he said he had left it too late to do enough to save his animals. As the rain continued he went to the nearest urban centre to buy plastic sheeting.

“I came back with plastic sheeting for shelter when the rain stopped. I had left the animals when it was still raining, there were 35 of them, but when I came back there only 25 left.

I know of two families who had members go missing and people have been looking for the bodies, but they only managed to find one woman’s body,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Mogadishu six people died and 301 buildings were destroyed or submerged by flooding.  Thousands of IDP families living in flimsy camps shelters lost everything.
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