BY ABDIQANI HASSAN
(Reuters) – At least 100 people were killed when a tropical cyclone hit Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region at the weekend, the government said on Monday, declaring a state of emergency and appealing for international aid.
The government said hundreds of people were missing after the storm made landfall on Saturday.
“Houses and livestock were swept into the ocean by the floods,” President Abdirahman Mohamud Farole told reporters in the capital Garowe.
“We urge United Nations aid agencies to assist the victims. As Puntland, we have established a committee to investigate the loss and damage. Electricity, communication and fishing boats were all destroyed.”
The government said preliminary information showed more than 100,000 livestock were lost and fishing boats swept away, endangering the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people.
The storm was forecast to move inland and continue until Wednesday.
The storm hit the Eyl, Beyla, Dangorayo and Hafun districts along the eastern coast and across to Alula at the tip of the Horn of Africa. High winds and heavy rains caused flash floods and cut off roads to the coastal areas.
“I have buried 10 members of my family, the icy storm and rain killed more than hundred people here,” elder Hussein Abdullahi, 57, told Reuters from Eyl.
“I have never witnessed such fatal cold. Some people were blown away and others died after their houses collapsed on them. Some people, and the animals they were looking after, are still missing,” he said.
Puntland spans the north of Somalia and has largely escaped the worst of the country’s upheaval of the last 20 years. Foreign powers advocating a loose federal political system in Somalia have held it up as a possible model.
The area is rich in energy resources and is being sized up by oil explorers. However, Puntland’s authorities have said insecurity is growing and blame the Islamist militant group al Shabaab, which has been driven out of many regions that it used to control in the rest of Somalia.
In August, Puntland said it had cut ties with the central government in Mogadishu, accusing it of refusing to share power and foreign aid with the regions.