Uganda

Uganda: Floods strike again, kill two

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By Charles Ariko

FLOODS that ravaged the north and northeastern region last year are back, killing two UPDF soldiers in Nakapiripirit and Bukwo districts.

Three districts of Kotido, Abim and Kaabong are now inaccessible from Moroto.

About 150 inmates from Nebbi had to be relocated to Arua after Ragem Prison was submerged.

Frank Baine, the prisons spokesman, said: "There was too much rain on the side of DR Congo which is near Ragem Prison."

The 3rd Division spokesman, Capt. Henry Obbo, said a soldier at Lolachat army detachment was washed away by River Lolachat in Nakapiripirit.

"His body was recovered at the banks of the river after a two-day search, with the magazine pouch still strapped on his chest," Obbo said. Obbo said the second soldier attached to the 67th Battalion in Bukwo was swept by the Bukwo-Lukiya stream as he crossed it.

The soldier, Obbo added, was moving with colleagues on the river bank when he was swept away. He said the soldiers often crossed the river and the soldier possibly underestimated the waters.

His body, Obbo explained, was recovered in the Bukwo-Lukiya stream after a four-day search. Obbo did not name the dead soldiers.

He attributed both incidents to heavy rains pounding Karamoja region. "These are the first cases of drowning of soldiers since the deployment of soldiers in Karamoja for disarmament," Obbo said.

As the rains continue to pound the region, travellers from the districts of Abim, Kotido and Kaabong are stranded at Loopei, 30kms from Moroto town.

The World Food Programme lorries ferrying relief food to Karamoja have been stuck between Orungo and Iriiri for the last six days.

In Pingire, Soroti district, about 1,000 homes were affected. LC3 chair Michael Ongwara told an emergency council meeting on Monday that 21 of the 31 villages on the shores of Lake Kyoga had been badly hit.

In Labori, he said, 70 households were displaced. In Osamitoi, Obangin and Omiria and Ongwara, cassava and potato gardens were washed away.

In Tororo district, the disaster committee on Monday closed Bumanda Primary School in Iyolwa sub-county after water filled up its pit-latrines.

Committee chief Richard Gulume said 556 pupils were sent home. Another 180 pupils, he said, were also affected at Osire Community School in Osukuru sub-county.

He said the disaster committee would meet to find ways of helping the victims.

Musa Ecweru, the disaster preparedness minister, told reporters in Kampala that mountainous areas in Mbale and western Uganda could suffer landslides.

Ecweru said Ora Bridge in Nebbi had flooded and was almost swept away. He said in Teso, the rains had washed away some feeder roads.

(Daniel Edyegu, Olandason Wanyama, Faustine Odeke & Salume Among)