August 7, 2006

Nearly 200 dead in Ethiopia floods

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - The death toll from flash flooding
that swept through an eastern Ethiopian town over the weekend
has risen to nearly 200 people and 300 others were still
missing, police said on Monday.

The Dechatu river burst its banks and flooded Dire Dawa
town overnight on Saturday, drowning many or burying them in
sandy debris as they slept. The death toll rose as police
recovered bodies after clearing sandy debris with bulldozers on

"One hundred and ninety-one people are dead, and we have
300 others unaccounted for, based on reports from relatives and
our officers," police inspector Benyam Fikru told Reuters.

Police on Monday were expected to resume recovery
operations, after pausing for the night.

The surge destroyed at least 220 homes in the town located
in Ethiopia's lowlands, 525 km (326 miles) east of the capital
Addis Ababa.

Heavy rains in Ethiopia's highlands during the June-August
season usually cause rivers in lowland areas to overflow.