Floods kill at least 31 in Somalia. UN warns of a flood event likely to happen once in 100 years

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Floods caused by torrential rainfall have killed at least 31 people in various parts of Somalia, authorities said Sunday.

Since October, floods have displaced nearly half a million people and disrupted the lives of over 1.2 million people, Minister of Information Daud Aweis told reporters in the capital Mogadishu. They have also caused extensive damage to civilian infrastructure notably in the Gedo region of southern Somalia, he said.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, which has given $25 million to help mitigate the impact of flooding, warned in a statement Thursday of “a flood event of a magnitude statistically likely only once in 100 years, with significant anticipated humanitarian impacts.”

“While all possible preparatory measures are being pursued, a flood of this magnitude can only be mitigated and not prevented,” OCHA said, recommending “early warning and early action" to save lives as "large-scale displacement, increased humanitarian needs and further destruction of property remain likely.”

The lives of some 1.6 million people in Somalia could be disrupted by floods during the rainy season that lasts until December, with 1.5 million hectares of farmland potentially being destroyed, it said.

Mogadishu has been ravaged by downpours that, at times, swept away vulnerable people, including children and the elderly, and disrupted transportation.

Floods are also affecting neighboring Kenya, where the death toll stood at 15 on Monday, according to the Kenya Red Cross. The port city of Mombasa and the northeastern counties of Mandera and Wajir are the worst affected.