Somalia: 360 reportedly dead in Puntland cyclone amid rescue operations
Nov 13, 2013 - 7:49:36 AM

GAROWE, Somalia Nov.13, 2013 (Garowe Online)-Amid rescue operations, 360 people are reportedly feared dead and the number could reach 400 in Somalia’s northeastern region of Puntland, Garowe Online reports.

Puntland Marine Police Forces (PMPF) have been attempting to transport an emergency supplies, consisting of non-perishable food items, tents, medicines and blankets but worst-hit areas became inaccessible after flash floods collapsed an important bridge connecting the capital Garowe to the port city of Bossaso.

Puntland Disaster Management and Rescue committee says, flooding is still ongoing as rains have heavily inundated the remote rural areas and the coastal towns at higher level than expected.

Rescue teams deployed by the government are also trying to reach the faraway vicinities by donkey carts.

Puntland’s Deputy Minister of Livestock and Animal Husbandry, Abdiweli Hirsi Nour Wednesday held a news conference in Garowe, declaring that the government has already registered 400 families whose livestock and their belongings were washed away by the floods.

“Pastoralists in the affected areas are really suffering; one nomadic family has lost 600 goats and sheep, “said Nour. “We are yet to receive any information from many places especially the areas on the Indian Ocean coast”.

Puntland Highway Authority is planning to prepare a detour for the trucks carrying the food aid since Midigir Bridge collapsed yesterday following torrential rains, the director told Garowe Online.

According to photographic images taken from some cyclone-hit areas by Puntland marine forces using special boats, the floods submerged the earth roads linking the towns to the rural areas and chocked some parts of Bossaso-Galkayo highway with debris from fallen trees and flattened homes.

140 people confirmed dead

Puntland Interior Minister, Gen. Abdullahi Ahmed Jama Ilkajir said that the powerful cyclone that hit the region over the weekend left 140 people dead, adding that the death toll could rise to 300.

"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," Jama told Reuters news agency.

Puntland’s Ministry of Interior warned the residents in the coastal areas along the Indian Ocean against the storm two days before the cyclone began to batter northeastern coasts.

Tough the government tightened the surveillance system, the extent of the devastation seems apparent.

Bossaso and Galkayo airports damaged

The heavy rains accompanying the cyclone affected the regular flights leaving and departing for the airports in Bossaso port city and Galkayo.

Puntland Civil Aviation Ministry officials confirmed to Garowe Online that the gravel runways looked like a muddy areas of debris, with tangled materials.

On Wednesday, officials noted the airports are being repaired.

Federal Govt and Somaliland pledge humanitarian assistance

Federal Government of Somalia’s Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon declared “a state of calamity” in the cyclone-hit areas of Puntland, pledging $1m to the communities churned by the tropical cyclone on Tuesday.

The Somali Federal Government in Mogadishu is expected to dispatch a ministerial delegation to Puntland.

Somalia government says it is sharing the pain of victims and would immediately respond to the disaster.

On the other hand Somalia’s separatist administration of Somalia said it would assist the residents devastated by the storm.

Speaking at a joint press conference with the Interior Minister in Somaliland capital of Hargeisa, Somaliland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mohamed Bihi Yonis sent condolences to the families of the victims and pledged that his government would play a vital role in providing humanitarian assistances to the people affected by the cyclone.
Somaliland and Puntland, located in northern Somalia escaped the worst of the country’s crisis over the last twenty years.