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Last Updated: Monday, 7 August 2006, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
Eyewitness: 'Everything is washed away'
Ethiopian student Biniam, 19, describes how his city, Dire Dawa, is trying to deal with loss and devastation after the Dechatu river burst its banks and the floodwaters swept away families and homes.

Ethiopia floodwaters
The Dechatu river overflowed, sweeping water through the city
I had been out with my friends drinking at a nightclub. We were feeling a little drunk and were all happy as we made our way back, at 2200 local time (1900 GMT), to my friend's home in a village called Number One.

But nothing was there any more.

Everything was gone.

His family, their home, their neighbours had all been taken.

We found one of his sisters alive. We are still looking for the rest of his family but we cannot find them - his father, his mother, his brothers - eight of them are gone.

It was very scary as we had never seen anything like it before.

Mass of water

There was water everywhere. It was as though the river was running backwards, it was coming towards us and we, and everyone around us, were running. Everyone was running. A lot of people were injured. Many were taken down.

So many people were taken.

YOUR PICTURES
People who lost their homes to floods in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia [Pic by BBC News website reader Biniam]

I was so scared. The big mass of water made so much noise. Then you had all the people's noise on top of it. Everybody was shouting, children crying. It was too terrible.

Almost all the children and the women were attacked by the liquid. It is a big disaster.

We really need help.

We have lost 500 people at least and most of those that have died are children.

In the villages of Number One, Dechatu and Coca there are no houses, nothing.

Frightening

Last night there was no power and so we used gas lights to help my friend look for his lost family.

We were so weary.

But we couldn't sleep.

No-one could sleep last night. Everyone was scared, and looking for the ones they had lost to the water. And people were frightened another flood would come.

On Monday people have been taking the dead bodies from the soil and to the hospital.

Families are trying to identify the bodies but you cannot. I cannot describe what they look like. It is too much for me.

I am lucky that my family are alive.

My friend though, I am so worried for him. It is like he has gone crazy with sorrow.

Another of our friends is looking after him, while we keep looking and trying to help.

What I have seen in my city has scared me.

Everything is washed away.



SEE ALSO
Hundreds lost in Ethiopia flood
07 Aug 06 |  Africa

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