As many as 300 people are feared dead after a ferocious storm and days
of heavy floods in Somalia's northeastern Puntland region, the local
government said Wednesday.
"Torrential rains, high wind speeds and flooding has created a state
of emergency, with 300 persons feared dead, hundreds others
unaccounted for, and countless livestock lost," the government of the
semi-autonomous region said in a statement.
The death toll could not be independently verified, but weather
experts from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) confirmed
flooding was severe.
"Given that Puntland is a semi-arid region, it rarely rains but when
it does, to an extent we have seen… the impact is devastating," said
Hussein Gadain, a senior FAO technical advisor.
Infamous pirate hotspots such as the port of Eyl — from where Somali
gunmen have launched attacks far out into the Indian Ocean — are some
of the worst affected.
"Many fishermen are missing and feared dead, the storm has destroyed
entire villages, homes, buildings, and boats," the statement added.
Coastal destruction caused by a 2004 tsunami was widely seen as being
one trigger for a surge in attacks off Somalia, peaking in January
2011 when the pirates held 736 hostages and 32 boats.
However, the rate of attacks has tumbled in the past two years,
prompted partly by the posting of armed guards on boats and navy
Pirates still hold an Omani-flagged Naham 3 fishing boat offshore, as
well as at least six traditional wooden Yemeni fishing boats, although
around 90 sailors from other boats are still held hostage onshore.
Puntland's government has described the situation as a "disaster",
with entire villages destroyed, and said it was appealing for
emergency international aid.
The World Food Programme (WFP) said it is "working closely" with local
authorities "to assess the needs in Puntland in the aftermath of the
The main tarmac road between Puntland's capital Garowe and the key
port Bossaso has been cut off by flood waters, hampering delivering of
"The loaded and ready trucks cannot deliver supplies by road, as the
heavy rains and flooding have rendered dirt roads to the coastal areas
impassible," the government added.
Somalia has been riven by civil war since the collapse of central
government in 1991.
Impoverished Puntland, which forms the tip of the Horn of Africa, has
its own government, although unlike neighbouring Somaliland, it has
not declared independence from Somalia.