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Flooding in Tanzania and Kenya claims scores of lives

Kieran Burke
April 25, 2024

After days of torrential rain across East Africa, Tanzania's prime minister says at least 155 people have been killed in flooding, while at least 13 killed have died in neighboring Kenya.

Residents wade through a flooded street of Mathare neighborhood as they try to remove their belongings in Nairobi, Kenya
Swollen rivers have overflowed, submerging entire houses, businesses, along with critical infrastructure in parts of KenyaImage: Gerald Anderson/Anadolu/picture alliance

Flooding from torrential rain in Tanzania has killed at least 155 people, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said on Thursday.

In an address to parliament, the East African leader added that around 200,000 people are impacted by flooding and that there was significant damage to homes, infrastructure and crops in a number of parts of the country.

"The heavy El Nino rains, accompanied by strong winds, floods, and landslides in various parts of the country, have caused significant damage," Majaliwa told parliament, according to AFP news agency.

"As a result ...  more than 51,000 households and 200,000 people were affected, with 155 fatalities; approximately 236 individuals were injured, and over 10,000 houses were affected to varying degrees," Majaliwa said.

The aftermatg of a landslide on a river shore due to flash floods caused by ongoing heavy rains on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Tanzania's Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said that 51,000 households had been impacted by floodingImage: Emmanuel Herman/Xinhua/picture alliance

Deaths reported in Kenya

Authorities in neighboring Kenya also reported fatalities after flash floods hit the capital city of Nairobi this week.

Police said that 13 people had been killed after streets turned into raging torrents with roads and bridges blocked and homes in the city's poorer areas engulfed.

"We recovered three more bodies today and the search is going on because we have people who were reported missing," local police commander Fred Abuga told AFP news agency.

Residents in a flooded street of Mathare neighborhood in Nairobi
Thousands of residents have been forced to evacuate there homes in parts of Kenya, and are seeking refuge in temporary sheltersImage: Gerald Anderson/Anadolu/picture alliance

Kenya's deputy president, Rigathi Gachagua, on Thursday said that a multi-agency emergency response center had been activated to deal with the developing situation.

Gachagua, citing weather forecasts, warned that Kenya would experience above-average rainfall over the coming days and urged people in low-lying communities to move to higher ground.

"The government ... will do whatever it takes, apply all the required resources in terms of money and personnel to make sure that lives are not lost and the people of Kenya are protected from this disaster," he told a press briefing.

What is El Nino?

El Nino is a naturally occurring and cyclical weather pattern that sees warmer than average ocean surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific that effects weather around the world. 

"It influences weather and storm patterns in different parts of the world. But it takes place in the context of a climate being changed by human activities," the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on its website.

The UN agency said the 2023-2024 El Nino peaked in December as one of the five strongest on record and said there was a 60% chance of persisting through May.

States of disaster have been declared in southern African states, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi due to drought, which is also associated with El Nino.

AFP material contributed to this report.

Edited by: Wesley Rahn