More than 600 killed in Nigeria’s worst flooding in a decade, hundreds missing
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Floods in Nigeria have killed a combined 600 people since December 25, the worst in more than a decade and the deadliest since the country’s civil war, a disaster agency official said on Monday.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said the toll included 609 in Jos, the capital and where some of the worst flooding and mudslides have hit the region over the last 10 days.
In the southeastern state of Borno, NEMA spokesman Olugbenga Ogunbiyi said 276 bodies had been recovered so far.
The NEMA official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.
The weather agency said a massive mudflow that trapped some residents of Jos last week was the most devastating in the city’s history, killing more than 1,500 people and displacing nearly 80,000 others.
Since December 25, 1,724 deaths have been reported in the worst flooding since the country’s civil war, NEMA said.
Officials say 1.3 million people across the country were affected by the floods.
NEMA director Martin Abba says the government is taking its flooding response seriously, despite a major infrastructure challenge in Nigeria, a country of about 170 million people with a gross domestic product of almost $500 billion per year.
Nearly 40 percent of Nigeria’s economy is dependent on agricultural production, and the country needs to invest heavily in a massive irrigation system to raise food production.
NEMA also said an estimated 2,200 houses in Borno state were destroyed or damaged.
The floods, which started on December 23 and continued through at least December 25, began in mid-December after heavy rains led to deadly floods in two towns on the shores of the Niger River.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and home to many of the world’s poorest people.
The stormy seas had forced some residents of the nearby states of Kebbi and Katsina to flee their homes, which was the primary motivation for the flooding.
The rain began to fall on Christmas Eve, prompting authorities to declare a state of disaster in parts of the northern state of Katsina.
Tens of thousands of people have been affected by