At least one person has been killed after heavy rains caused rivers to burst their banks in southeast Nigeria, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes, an NGO said Friday. “We were able to speak to a woman and one of her children was killed in the night, two are in the hospital as a result of the collapse of a building,” said Helen Teghtegh, executive director of Community Links and Human Empowerment Initiative, which works in Benue State.
“The rains have stopped for the past two days so waters are going down, but a lot of property and farmland are affected,” she said. Twenty-one communities have suffered heavy flooding, with those close to waterways hardest hit, while many thatched houses were destroyed after becoming saturated, she added.
President Muhammadu Buhari said on Twitter on Thursday that at least 100,000 people had been displaced by the flooding in Benue, based on “early estimates”. The National Emergency Management Agency said it had deployed a rescue team to the region. The region had been battered by heavy rains over the past two weeks causing the level of the Benue River to rise rapidly.
Many residents in the state capital, Makurdi, have abandoned their homes since Wednesday, with images of the city showing cars and thousands of homes completely submerged. Others showed men and women carrying mattresses, bags and other belongings as they fled on foot.
Two relief camps have been opened in Makurdi to shelter the homeless. Benue state, which is heavily dependent on its agricultural sector, has suffered repeated flooding in recent years, caused by heavy rains and the opening of dams in neighboring Cameroon. In 2012, Nigeria suffered disastrous floods across 30 of its 36 states, in which hundreds of people died and about two million were left homeless.