300 feared dead after tropical cyclone slams into Somalia

BOSASSO, Somalia -- The death toll
from a tropical cyclone that hit
Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland
region at the weekend has risen to 140
but the final figure could total 300, the
government said on Wednesday.
The government has declared a state of
emergency and appealed 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 Organization
(FAO) said the cyclone, which made
landfall on Saturday, was characterized
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 inland.
"So far we have confirmed the storm
killed 140 people. 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," 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.
Tobin Jones / AU-UN IST via EPA
A handout picture provided by the
African Union-United Nations
Information Support Team (AU-UN I
shows a young child receiving a me
makeshift hospital erected at an AM
military camp to help those affecte
recent flooding and clan conflict ne
Jowhar, Somalia, on Tuesday.
Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh
Mohamud, whose country is struggling
to rebuild after two decades of civil
war, has pledged to send $1 million
dollars to the storm-hit region.
Puntland said in August it had cut 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 cyclone's heavy torrential rains
caused flash floods that led to the loss
of about 100,000 livestock and fishing
boats that were swept into the Indian
Ocean.
The FAO said about 65 percent of
Somalia's population depends on
livestock, a sector that has seen sharp
growth since Arab 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.
"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 FAO in Somalia,
pledging help for the survivors.