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Thursday, January 15, 1998 Published at 17:10 GMT

World: Africa

Floods death toll may rise
image: [ Workers in the pick-up truck try to pull the car to safety ]
Workers in the pick-up truck try to pull the car to safety

Torrential rain and floods have caused severe disruption to transport networks throughout east Africa.

Two bridges have been destroyed on the main road linking Kenya and Uganda -- the region's economic lifeline - leaving more than 400 heavy cargo trucks destined for Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan and Congo-Kinshasa stranded at the border.

The Ugandan government says it is trying to put up a temporary bridge to allow the vehicles to pass.

In Tanzania, where the rail network has been suspended for three weeks because of flood damage, service on some lines has resumed.

Road traffic has also been restricted, with many roads submerged and ten bridges damaged.

Prices for food and other commodities have risen, and even doubled, in Tanzania. Much east and central African trade passes through Tanzanian and Kenyan ports.

Kenyan death toll rising

[ image:  ]
More than 70 people have died during four months of floods in Kenya, police say.

The figure may rise as more information is obtained from parts of the country still cut off by flood water.

Spokesman Peter Kimanthi said that parts of Kenya were still underwater and could not be reached by road or air. Phone lines are also out of action.

Schools in most of northern and northeastern Kenya are closed because the rains that began on October 23 have caused rivers to burst their banks, destroying bridges and making roads impassable.

Landslides have also blocked roads or left gaping holes in highways, Mr Kimanthi said.

In Nairobi, at least five people drowned this week in the heaviest rains in decades, the independent Daily Nation reported.

Heavy rains have been attributed to the El Nino weather phenomenon.

Meteorologists have recorded rainfalls at 500% above normal in the region, and predicted rains will continue up to the end of February.


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