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General News of Friday, 14 September 2007

Source: BBC

Health fears after Ghana floods

Flooding from torrential rain has devastated large areas of northern Ghana, and left thousands of people vulnerable to waterborne diseases. At least 20 people have died in the floods, which have submerged land which produces food for the entire country.

Almost 400,000 people have lost their homes, a spokeswoman from the Ghana Red Cross told the BBC.

Parts of northern Togo have also been affected and 34,000 people have been displaced there, the government says.

At least 20 Togolese have also been killed, while 101 bridges and 46 schools have been destroyed.

The government says it is sending food aid to the region.

"The situation is dire," said Benonita Bismark, from Ghana's Red Cross Society

She said the situation had been made worse when a dam in neighbouring Burkina Faso was opened, releasing more water into the Volta River, which flows in Ghana.

There have already been some cases of cholera, she told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

She said that most of those affected had lived in mud buildings which had collapsed.

Some villages in Ghana can only be reached by canoe, making it difficult to deliver aid.

The Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions have been declared a disaster zone by the government.

Upper East region minister Alhassan Samar said malaria and cholera could take hold and mosquito nets were being handed out.

People are being urged to boil their drinking water.