The river is swollen because of heavy seasonal rains. It broke through three dikes on Saturday and flooded the Wonji sugar factory and its 17,290 acres of sugar cane, the agency said.
The 20,000 people, most of them laborers and their families, were evacuated to the nearby town of Nazareth, while another 2,300 fled and sought shelter on a hilltop overlooking the factory, the agency said.
Public Works Minister Haile Assegide said one body was found floating near the factory.
Haile said floods threatened the other sugar factory at Metehara, 19 miles downstream from Wonji.
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