Page last updated at 21:37 GMT, Wednesday, 2 September 2009 22:37 UK

Many homeless in Burkina deluge

Burkinabes wade through floodwater in Ouagadougou, 01/01
Burkinabes say this year's rainy season has been particularly extreme

The heaviest rains to hit Burkina Faso in decades have killed five people and left 150,000 homeless, officials say.

Flooding destroyed thousands of homes in and around the capital, Ouagadougou, triggering officials pleas for international help.

Aid groups said flood waters had smashed bridges and washed away roads, making their task even more difficult.

Some 30cm (12in) of rain fell in less than 10 hours - analysts labelling it the heaviest downpour since 1919.

Prime Minister Tertius Zongo told reporters after an emergency cabinet meeting that five people had so far been confirmed dead in the floods, and at least 150,000 were homeless.

Map of Burkina Faso

"We have been able to find shelter for about 110,000 people but there are others who have taken refuge with their neighbours," he said.

The city's main hospital was completely flooded in the downpour, with dozens of patients being evacuated.

The army was mobilised to help firefighters and police deal with the crisis.

Rosine Jourdain, of the Belgian Red Cross in Burkina Faso, said bridges, dams and roads had been washed away.

"An electrical plant was also destroyed so I think we are going to have some power supply problems," she told Reuters.

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