People feared dead after boat capsizes as flooding in Somalia forces 182,000 people from their homes

Two children believed to be among those who drowned in city of Beledweyne, UN humanitarian arm says

Chiara Giordano
Tuesday 29 October 2019 17:57 GMT
A Somali boy stands on a junk vehicle after heavy rain flooded their neighbourhood in Mogadishu, Somalia, 21 October, 2019.
A Somali boy stands on a junk vehicle after heavy rain flooded their neighbourhood in Mogadishu, Somalia, 21 October, 2019.

Numerous people are feared dead after flooding caused a boat to capsize and thousands to flee their homes in Somalia.

Up to 20 people were thrown into the water during the accident in the central city of Beledweyne, near the Ethiopia border, on Monday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

Two children are believed to have been among those who drowned when the vessel overturned in a river flowing through the city in Hiiraan province.

The number of casualties is not yet known, however mixed reports claim between 10 and 15 people are feared dead.

Beledweyne mayor Safiya Hassan Sheikh Ali Jimale was reportedly in the boat at the time but survived, according to Xinhua news agency.

An estimated 182,000 people have been forced to leave their homes across the country early seasonal rains triggered torrential downpours to sweep across the country, particularly in southern areas.

About 164,000 of those were in Beledweyne, also referred to as Belet Weyne, and surrounding areas alone.

The heavy rain has led to the Juba and Shabelle rivers overflowing, causing flooding in southern areas such as Hirshabelle and Jubaland.

Farmland, infrastructure and roads have been destroyed in some of the worst-hit areas.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry offered its condolences in a statement on Tuesday, saying: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life and extensive damage caused by the heavy flooding in the city of Beledweyne in Somalia.

“We share the grief of the friendly and brotherly Somali people, wish Allah’s mercy upon those who lost their lives and extend our condolences to their families.”

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Humanitarian organisations have been working alongside national and local authorities in affected areas to provide basic needs including water, shelter and healthcare to those who have been displaced.

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