Aug 14, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — Heavy floods have forced more than 1,100 families to flee in Sudan, while the river Nile has risen to a serious level, an official said on Monday.
Awad Widatalla Hussein, head of the civil defence authority, said only one person was officially confirmed dead, although Sudanese papers carried numbers of at least eight killed in Khartoum alone.
The Nile in Khartoum was at 16.40 metres on Sunday, above its height on the same day in 1988, when scores of people were killed and hundreds of thousands lost their homes due to heavy rains and floods.
"This Nile level is high alert," Hussein told Reuters. "It is very serious."
"The difference between now and 1988 is that now we have mostly flooding and then we had heavy rain too," Hussein said.
Hussein said he did not expect the effects of the floods this year to be as bad as in 1988.
"Now the Sudanese people are more aware of floods and the government is more prepared." He said there were 10 checkpoints along the river to measure water levels.
Parts of the capital were under water on Monday with many of the dirt roads turning to clay pits. Rainstorms knocked out electricity in many parts of the town.
Areas of Tutti Island in the confluence where the Blue and White Nile rivers meet in Khartoum were under water.
Heavy floods have been common in the past few years in Sudan’s east along the Blue Nile but happen more rarely in the capital and the north where much of Sudan’s population live.
An outbreak of cholera early this year in the south, the western Darfur region and in Khartoum has heightened fears of water-borne diseases spreading because of the floods.