August 10, 2006

Ethiopian flood toll at 254 with 250 still missing

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - The death toll from flash floods
that hit an eastern Ethiopian town rose to 254 on Thursday as
rescuers widened their search for some 250 people still
missing, police said.

Teams of soldiers and police have rummaged through piles of
mud and sandy debris for five days around Dire Dawa, 525 km
(324 miles) east of the capital Addis Ababa.

"The rescue team has intensified its search up to 60 km (37
miles) downstream after it received some information from
people along the banks of the river who have located dead
bodies," police inspector Benyam Fikru told Reuters from Dire

"The death toll is now 254 after three adult bodies were
found downstream and a child's body was found in the riverbed
in town after people were drawn by the stench," he said.

The Dechatu river burst its banks on Saturday night,
sweeping away many victims and destroying buildings.

Flash floods typically happen in lowland areas after heavy
rains drench the highlands during the June-August rainy season.