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Tidal Wave Hits Somalia, Kenya

In the east Africa area, Somalia was hit particularly hard by Sunday's tidal wave, killing more than one hundred people and destroying several coastal villages. There was also some damage in neighboring Kenya.

Somali presidential spokesman Yusuf Baribari described to VOA Monday the effect that the tidal wave has had on his country.

"The loss of life, it's in terms of hundreds," he said. "The loss of properties, it's absolutely something that we cannot even describe. There are entire coastal towns and villages that have been submerged, and they are still submerged, by the sea. The fishermen that yesterday went out for their daily activity into the ocean, they haven't come back yet."

Mr. Baribari said local relief teams have been set up to help the injured and affected but, with very limited resources and the new government still in Kenya waiting to return to Somalia, the teams can do little to alleviate the suffering.

"We are really in bad need for any, any logistic and relief supply and relief support, and we are kindly asking the international community, the neighboring countries, the international organization[s] to start airlifting the immediate relief supplies," he said.

Sunday's tidal wave, caused by an earthquake in the ocean near the coast of Indonesia, has killed more than 22,000 people in such countries as Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Maldives.

Huge waves radiated out to East Africa, hitting the islands of Mauritius, Reunion, and Seychelles in the process.

Seychelles President James Michel called for calm and formed a national disaster committee to evacuate areas following the disappearance of nine people. Damage was also reported on the other two islands.

In Kenya, one person drowned near the north coast city of Malindi and two people were injured in Mombasa Sunday when the huge waves belted the coast. Boats and other properties in Lamu, Malindi and Mombasa were also destroyed.

Kenyan authorities Sunday evening ordered the evacuation of all beaches along the coastline.

Coast Provincial Police Commander Alex Rono told VOA the situation was calm Monday, but authorities are not taking any chances.

"We are monitoring in case of anything but we have advised our people that they should keep off the beaches today," he said.

At this time of year, the Kenyan coast is popular with foreign and domestic holiday vacationers.

Kenyan Environment Minister Kalonzo Musyoka said the Kenyan navy has been put on "top alert."

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