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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 August 2006, 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK
Floods leave Ethiopians homeless
Map of Ethiopia showing areas of Sebeta and Awassa flooded by Awash River
The 1,200km (750 miles) river is the longest in the country
About 15,000 people have been rescued from flooded villages in Ethiopia after rains caused the Awash River to flood, the state-run emergency agency says.

Ethiopia's Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency (DPPA) used motorboats to evacuate the villagers in the southern region of Oromia.

Weeks of heavy seasonal rain have caused the Awash River to burst its banks in several areas.

The newly homeless are being provided with humanitarian aid and clean water.

Heavy rains in the Ethiopian highlands during the June-August season usually cause rivers in lowland areas to overflow.

"The river has been increasing its flow since 12 July and has now flooded some of its banks," the head of DPPA's early warning system, Teshome Erkineh, told the United Nations Irin news agency.

"Not much physical damage has been done so far, but thousands of people are living in flooded areas. Local authorities are advising them to move away to avoid contracting diseases.

"If the rains continue, the damage will be much worse," Mr Teshome warned.

The last time the Awash River burst its banks was in April when thousands of people were affected. Villages were washed away and hundreds of livestock killed.


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