Somalia’s Puntland Region Says 300 People Killed by Cyclone

At least 300 people are feared dead in Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland after a tropical cyclone struck several coastal districts at the weekend, the authorities said.

Hundreds more people are unaccounted and “countless” livestock were lost in the storm, which destroyed entire villages, homes, buildings and boats in the northeastern Somali region on Nov. 9, Puntland’s presidency said in an e-mailed statement today. The main highway linking the capital, Garowe, to its biggest port at Bossaso, has been cut off, causing “the biggest logistical problems during the ongoing relief efforts.”

The area between Eyl and Banderbeyla on Puntland’s eastern Indian Ocean coast is inaccessible, Mohamed A. Mohamed, media adviser to President Abdirahman Farole, said by phone from Garowe. “We’re expecting the death toll to rise based on accounts from family members in the area,” he said.

An estimated 30,000 people in a 250 square-kilometer (97 square-mile) area need emergency supplies of food, water, shelter and medical aid, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said today in an e-mailed statement.

Puntland, located on the tip of the Horn of Africa, declared autonomy in 1998 and seeks the creation of a federal Somali government. Companies including Africa Oil Corp. of Canada and Fort Worth, Texas-based Range Resources Corp. are exploring for oil in the semi-arid region.

The government declared a disaster emergency after the storm, known as 03A, lashed the region with “heavy torrential rain, high wind speeds and flooding,” the presidency said. Many fishermen are missing and feared dead, it said. Thousands of livestock were killed as a result of “icy rain,” the UN said.

Farole reiterated his government’s appeal to the international community for help with relief supplies and to support the delivery of emergency assistance via airdrops.

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