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Crocodiles Kill Five In Flood-Hit Somalia
MOGADISHU, Nov 19, 2006 – Crocodiles have killed five people forced to wade through floodwaters devastating Somalia, officials said on Sunday, as the interim government appealed for international help.
Floods have killed scores, driven tens of thousands from their homes, submerged villages, and washed away bridges and roads in south-central Somalia, making it difficult to get aid to victims still trapped and stoking fears of epidemic disease.
Residents in Bulo Burde town in the worst-hit central Hiraan region climbed trees to escape both the floodwaters and hungry crocodiles.
"This is the worst water disaster I have ever seen. The land looks like an ocean," Hassan Hilowle Osman, a local politician told Reuters by phone.
"People do not have anywhere to go, they are on the hills and trees. The crocodiles killed five people and five people are missing."
Large swathes of farmland are submerged and food stocks have been washed away.
Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi appealed for help, government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari told Reuters.
"1.5 million people have been affected by the floods. I appeal to the international aid agencies to come to the rescue of the people who urgently need food, medicine and tents," a statement said. "At least 50 people have died."
Charity Save the Children said this week nearly half a million Somali children needed emergency aid.
Aid workers expect the death toll to rise as thousands of poor farming families sleep out in the cold, exposed to malaria and water-borne diseases.
Somalia , one of the world's poorest countries, plunged into anarchy in 1991 after dictator Mohamed Siyad Barre was overthrown by warlords.
Islamists who control most of the south of the country, challenging the Western-backed government's authority, have also appealed for international help to deal with the floods.
Torrential rains and floods have hit up to 1.8 million people in the Horn of Africa, with large areas of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya and Sudan also affected, U.N. aid bodies say.