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Sudan Flooding Kills 12, Displaces 325,000 - 2003-08-04

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says at least 12 people have been killed and more than 325,000 displaced by floods in eastern Sudan. Relief officials are calling it the worst flooding in 70 years.

The Red Cross blames heavy rains and excess water coming from the highlands of Ethiopia and Eritrea for floods that are sweeping through the city of Kassala and its surrounding area, about 450 kilometers east of the capital, Khartoum.

International Federation information officer Pekka Reinikainen says additional flooding Sunday has added to the emergency, which began when dykes holding back the Gash River burst late last week. The river flows through the middle of Kassala.

The United Nations reports that the flood waters, which are reportedly nearly three meters high in some areas, have swept away at least 600 buildings. Experts predict there could be more rain in the coming weeks.

Mr. Reinikainen said the Sudanese government has asked his agency to coordinate relief efforts that will include bringing in drinking water for those displaced by the floods. "We're getting control over the situation in terms of being able to establish the needs and being able to get assistance in, both locally, regionally and internationally," he said. "But we are very much afraid that the situation might worsen still."

The United Nations reports that in Kassala relief workers are in the process of rescuing people cut off by the floods.

There are also other parts of eastern Sudan affected by the flooding. Mr. Reinikainen says the Red Crescent Society in Sudan reports what it terms ferocious flooding in the states of Sinnar, Gezira, and White Nile.

Mr. Reinikainen knows of one family of seven which was swept away by the floods in the town of Kenana, about 300 kilometers south of Khartoum.