Flash floods leave at least six dead, 7 missing in Somalia's Puntland
QARDHO, Puntland - Search and rescue missions were activated on Tuesday after deadly flash floods in Qardho District of Puntland, which left at least six people dead and seven others missing, in the latest tragedy in Somalia.
The heavy downpour on Monday night submerged homes, swept food stores and cars besides destroying other essential structures within the region, occasioning massive displacement of people, some victims told Garowe Online via phone.
Desperate amateur rescuers spent the entire Monday night recovering bodies of the victims, while some opted to search for those believed to have been swept downstream by the flash floods, which comes at the time the world is battling Coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday, authorities from Puntland government led by president Said Abdullahi Deni arrived in the flood-hit town to assess the impact caused by the catastrophe, even as others intensified search for the missing persons.
Saddened by the latest setback, Federal government President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo empathized with the affected families, adding that his administration was working on logistics to ensure those affected were cushioned in time.
“We share with you the sadness and hardship, as we concentrate on contributing to the relief of vulnerable families facing the crisis today,” Farmajo, who is facing a re-election puzzle in December, said in a rare tweet.
He added: "We have instructed the National Emergency Response Committee to move swiftly to alleviate further those suffering within the region." The committee is chaired by Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire.
For several months now, Farmajo has been at loggerheads with regional President Said Deni, who among others, has been questioning his poor attitude towards member states and assenting both petroleum and electoral law "without sufficient" consultation.
But a technical Farmajo only anchored his message of the general welfare of Puntland people, who he thanked for a swift response to "rescue those in need". The region is experiencing Gu rains that come from April to June.
In the company of top regional officials, Deni also visited the region to assess the damage. The government, he added, "will do all it can to ensure the affected families are settled and given adequate food among other essentials".
The search and rescue mission, he said, "will continue until the missing people are accounted for". Regional police officers and Puntland forces are leading the search and rescue mission, which could, after all, take longer due to tough terrains and "unforgiving" topography.
Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the former Somali president and current leader of Forum for National Parties [FNP], a conglomerate of six opposition parties termed the situation "horrible" and asked for well-wishers to "urgently" step in and "help our suffering people".
However, he did not reveal the coalition's immediate plan to visit the region. Together with another former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the two firebrand leaders have often seized advantage of emergencies to put the current government.
Usually, rains are rare in all parts of the arid country in the Horn of Africa. But more often than not, the months of October to December are associated with flash floods, due to long rains that are associated with the period.
For instance, several people died within the same period last year, during flash floods across the country which left over 60,000 people displaced. The United Nations Mission in Somalia, AU, and other partners played an indispensable role in helping to mitigate the crisis.
Somalia is prone to catastrophic including the current Coronavirus pandemic, inter-clan conflicts, and the Al-Shabaab menace, which have made life unbearable. Monday's death toll could rise exponentially once the search for the missing people is completed.