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Five killed, hundreds of houses razed in Sudanese floods

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KHARTOUM, July 31 (AFP) — Five people were killed and more than 680 houses destroyed in almost unprecedented flooding and heavy rains that hit the eastern Sudanese city of Kassala, media reports said Thursday.

The Qash river that flows through Kassala city burst its banks on Tuesday night amid protracted rainfall of 72 millimetres (2.8 inches), taking residents by surprise, state-run Radio Omdurman and Khartoum newspapers reported.

The reports quoted Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Kamal Ali Mohamed as saying that no such flooding of the Qash had been recorded for the past 70 years.

The river rose some two metres (six feet) above the level of its banks and flooded the streets of the city, Mohamed said, adding that it was difficult to tell whether the flooding would continue or get worse.

Al Anbaa daily quoted acting Kassala State Governor Mohamed al-Amin Tirik as saying five people were killed, either swept away by the floodwaters or crushed to death under their collapsing houses.

Thousands of people were made homeless and public buildings, including the radio and television stations and the university, were badly damaged, the reports said.

Water and electricity services were also damaged and telephone cables destroyed, cutting the city off from the outside world, the reports added.

Tents, plastic sheets, food and medicines were being sent to Kassala from the capital by land and air while local authorities called for aid from volunteers and organisations.

Some residents, interviewed on Radio Omdurman, bitterly complained that the government in Khartoum had not acted swiftly enough to help them.

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