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40 killed in Nigerian dam collapse

October 02, 2006

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KANO, Oct 1: At least 40 people were killed and 1,000 displaced when a dam collapsed near Gusau, capital of northern Nigerian Zamfara State, in torrential rains, a government spokesman said on Sunday.

Ibrahim Birnin-Magaji said disaster struck on the outskirts of Gusau in the early hours of Saturday, sweeping away hundreds of houses and drowning at least 40 people.

“There was an unprecedented torrential downpour in Gusau which started on Friday night through Saturday as a result of which the dam burst and swept away no less than 500 houses, killing at least 40 people,” he said.

“It was the heaviest downpour recorded here which was accompanied by strong wind. The flood has caused colossal damage. It is a kind of tsunami to us,” he said. Rescuers were continuing to recover more bodies.

“Apart from the lives lost and the houses destroyed, the flood has inundated a large swathe of farmland that are almost due for harvest and killed hundreds of livestock,” Birnin Magaji said.

He said those displaced by the flood were accommodated in a secondary school while a headcount of the affected households was going on to ascertain the exact number of casualties.

“The figure of the dead is not conclusive because a headcount of affected households has commenced and when the headcount is completed we will have a final figure of those killed in the flood,” Birnin-Magaji said.

The spokesman said the bridge linking Gusau with the northern part of the state also collapsed as a result of the flood.—AFP