The death toll from a tropical cyclone that hit Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region at the weekend has risen to 140, and the final figure could be 300, the government said.
A state of emergency has been declared and the government appealed for international aid. It said it needed clean water, non-perishable foods, medicines, shelter materials and blankets.
„So far we have confirmed the storm killed 140 people,“ said Abdullahi Ahmed, Puntland’s interior minister. „We are afraid the death toll may reach 300 because many people are still missing. Roads have been cut and the only access to those areas is by air.“
Weather experts at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said the cyclone, which made landfall on Saturday, brought unusually heavy storms. Latest rainfall data shows the cyclone has subsided after flooding the towns of Eyl, Dangaroyo and the Puntland capital, Garowe, though heavy rains are still expected inland.
Somalia’s president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, pledged to send $1m to the region. Puntland said in August it had cut ties with Mogadishu, accusing it of refusing to share power and foreign aid.
The cyclone’s heavy torrential rains caused flash floods that led to the loss of about 100,000 livestock. Many fishing boats were swept into the Indian Ocean. The FAO said about 65% of Somalia’s population depended on livestock.
„Knowing that livestock and fisheries are key livelihood activities in the affected regions, we anticipate the storm to heavily hurt coastal communities,“ said Rudi Van Aaken, the acting head of the FAO in Somalia, pledging help for the survivors.
Puntland 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 up Puntland as a possible model.