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General News of Saturday, 15 September 2007

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Floods wreck havoc across Africa -Ghana Hit Hard!

...NADMO presents relief items to U/E
... Disease alert in flood-hit Africa
... UN Sends Disaster Assessment Team
... 20 Killed, 400,000 Homeless
... State of emergency declared in 3 regions
... President Leaves for Canada

Severe rainfall has led to flooding and wrecked crops in Ghana and many other countries across Western and Eastern Africa, leaving hundreds of thousands of people in chaotic living conditions.

In Ghana, at least 20 people have been killed so far (read), 4,544 houses damaged, more than 400,000 homeless.

The floods have submerged land which produces food for the entire country.

A state of emergency has been declared in Ghana for Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions, which has been hit especially hard. Upper East region minister Alhassan Samar said malaria and cholera could take hold and mosquito nets were being handed out

Three bridges in the Wa East District of the Upper West Region, have been destroyed by the floods, making transportation in the area almost impossible.

The floods have hit large areas of the land producing food for the entire country, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported.

A spokesman for the crisis centre in Ghana said some villages and settlements had been wiped off the map as a result of the floods, the BBC reported.

He said a relief effort had now been intensified and food and clothing were being distributed. Materials to rebuild homes are also being delivered and the country's small navy has sent two boats to help ferry people to safety.

The homeless have been relocated to schools and other government buildings awaiting assistance.

Benonita Bismarck, from Ghana's Red Cross Society, said the situation was dire and cases of cholera have already been reported.

George Azi Amoo, co-ordinator of Ghana's disaster management body, said the floods had destroyed farmland, livestock and infrastructure.

"Some villages and communities have now been totally wiped off the map of Ghana," he told the BBC.

During a visit to the affected areas during the week, President John Kufuor, who left the country for Canada on Friday, assured that the government would mobilise resources to restore roads, bridges and other infrastructure destroyed by the floods.

"Government cannot sit unconcerned for the people to suffer untold hardships," he said, adding that engineers would soon be sent to the area.

He said the government had approved $67 million to provide relief materials for victims of the disaster.

The flooding in Ghana intensified when water was recently released from a hydro-electric dam in neighbouring Burkina Faso.

Outside Ghana

In Uganda and Ethiopia, tens of thousands had to leave their homes at risk from rising water levels.

The floods had affected at least 500,000 people in West African and another half a million in Sudan, according to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs.

The flooded areas were now at risk of diseases such as cholera, and food and medicines were scarce, officials and aid organizations warned.

Rains threaten flood-hit Africa

The UN is warning of fresh rains and outbreaks of water-borne disease across Africa.

UN spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said: "The rains are set to continue and we are really concerned because a lot of people are homeless and infectious diseases could emerge."