Published on : Friday, November 15, 2013
The death toll from a tropical cyclone that hit Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region during the weekend has risen to 140. However, the final figure could go up to 300, the government said on Wednesday.
The government has declared a state of emergency while appealing for international aid to help the tiny Horn of Africa region, which is rich in energy resources and is being sized up by oil explorers.
Weather experts at the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said the cyclone, which made landfall on Saturday, was characterised by unusually heavy storms.
Latest rainfall data shows the cyclone has subsided after flooding the coastal town of Eyl, Dangaroyo and the Puntland capital Garowe, though heavy rains are still expected.
“So far we have confirmed reports that the storm killed 140 people. We are afraid the death toll may reach 300 because many people are still missing. Roads have been cut off and the only access to those areas is by air,” Abdullahi Ahmed, Puntland’s interior minister, told Reuters late on Tuesday.
The government said it needed clean water, non-perishable foods, medicines, shelter materials and blankets.
Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, whose country is struggling to rebuild after two decades of civil war, has pledged to send $1 million to the storm-hit region.
Puntland said in August it had cut off ties with Mogadishu, accusing it of refusing to share power and foreign aid.
The region spans the north of Somalia and has largely escaped the worst of the country’s upheaval over the last 20 years. Foreign powers advocating a loose federal political system for Somalia have held Puntland up as a possible model.
The FAO said about 65 per cent of Somalia’s population depends on livestock, a sector that has seen sharp growth since Gulf States lifted a nine-year ban on Somali livestock exports. Half of these exports pass through the port of Bosasso in Puntland.
Famine has added to Somalia’s woes in the last three years.