Floods in western Ethiopia's Gambella region had killed two people and displaced more than 6,000, officials said on Thursday.
Government officials said the Baro River burst its banks on Wednesday, and residents were being resettled in safe areas to protect them from more potential flooding. A task force has been established to relocate the displaced and to deliver relief assistance to the affected people.
"This river used to fill by the end of August and beginning of September, but this time the river started to overflow before the expected time. It started to fill from mid-June. It is now becoming a threat even to Gambella town," said Nega Derib, coordinator of the Task Force.
The worst affected districts in Gambella, which is 700 km from the capital, Addis Ababa, were Akobo, Likawo, Lire and Watuwa. Derib said more than 6,000 people displaced by Wednesday's floods had been given shelter.
Okelo Oawit, head of the Gambella Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission, said there were some small villages that rescuers were unable to reach to assess the flood damage. "Roads and bridges have been damaged. We are trying to reach these small villages by boat today," he said.
He added that foot and mouth disease was affecting the region's livestock after the flooding and malaria was also a concern.
Sisay Tadesse, public relations officer for the Federal Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency, said it was closely monitoring the overflow of the Baro River.
Heavy rainfall since the end of July has caused most big rivers in Ethiopia to swell and weather forecasts indicate more rains, which could lead to more flooding. In total, severe floods have claimed the lives of 620 people around Ethiopia, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and 35,000 people have been displaced.
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