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Africa

Over 100 dead after heavy rains burst dam

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2011-09-01

The Eleyele dam in southwest Nigeria has collapsed, killing at least 102 people, after heavy rains fell for more than seven hours, a Red Cross official reported Wednesday.

AFP - At least 102 people were killed when a dam burst in torrential rain and flooding in southwest Nigeria, a local Red Cross official told AFP Wednesday.

"The death toll for now... is 102," said Umar Mairiga, disaster management coordinator for the Nigerian Red Cross Society.

He said the Eleyele dam collapsed and several bridges were swept away at the weekend after heavy rains fell for more than seven hours around the university town of Ibadan 150 kilometres (90 miles) north of the economic capital Lagos.

Local residents were swept away by the water after their homes crumbled in the flood waters while others tried to scramble to safety, Mairiga said.

An official of the National Emergency Management Agency (Nema) said the drains in the town were blocked by rubbish which meant the water could not escape normally.

Seven of Ibadan's eight districts were affected, displacing many residents, Mairiga said.

"We have over 80 families in a primary school," he said, while other displaced persons had left shelters to seek refuge with family and friends.

Regional and national emergency bodies had distributed food, blankets, mattresses and rubber mats to affected families, the Red Cross official said.

Flooding occurs each rainy season in Nigeria, though emergency officials have warned of particularly intense rains this year. The rainy season typically runs from around April to September.

In July, floods triggered by a heavy downpour killed at least 20 people in Lagos, while 24 died in June when unusually heavy rains inundated a neighbourhood in Nigeria's largest northern city of Kano.

The largest cities in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, are overcrowded, with many residents living in haphazardly constructed slums. Drainage systems are also often poorly maintained and contribute to the problem of floods.

Nigeria experienced severe flooding last year that affected around half a million people in two-thirds of its 36 states

The neighbouring nation of Benin was also hard hit by flooding in 2010, with 55,000 homes destroyed and at least 680,000 people affected.

More than 300 people were killed in the 2010 rainy season in western and central Africa.

Date created : 2011-09-01

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