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Khartoum Residents Evacuated from Nile Banks

August 18, 1988

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) _ Tens of thousands of people are being evacuated from homes along the flooding Nile and a government minister said hordes of locusts may be Sudan’s next disaster, according to news reports Thursday.

The known death toll from the worst floods in Sudanese history rose to 91.

Al-Ahram, a semi-official Egyptian daily newspaper, reported in its early Thursday edition that people were being evacuated in Khartoum, its twin city Omdurman across the Nile and villages north and south of the capital.

A dispatch from Khartoum in the Egyptian daily Al-Akhbar quoted Agriculture Minister Fateh el-Teegany as saying locusts in had increased fivefold in western Sudan in recent days, swarms had reached the western regions Darfour and Kordofan, and more were on their way from neighboring Chad and Nigeria.

He said the locusts would attack what was left of crops in central Sudan in September and October unless they were stopped.

In the central Gezira region, which includes Sudan’s richest agricultural lands, tens of thousands of acres planted in cotton, corn and vegetables were submerged by flood waters and the conditions helped the locust swarms grow, the minister added.

Egypt’s Middle East News Agency said 140 planeloads of relief supplies had reached Khartoum since heavy rains Aug. 4-5 caused floods that left up to 2 million people homeless and caused more than $200 million in damage.

The agency report Wednesday said authorities still had great difficulty distributing tents, food and medicine to flood victims because many affected areas in central, eastern and northern Sudan were isolated and whole villages were swept away.

No complete damage estimate was available, but officials have said 115,000 homes were destroyed in Khartoum alone. Standing water in the city has become stagnant and more rain Tuesday made conditions worse.

Mahmoud Beshir Gamma, the irrigation minister, was quoted by the Egyptian agency as saying the large northern towns of Atbara, el-Damer, Berber and Dongola were threatened with flooding.

It said 18 Sudanese drowned when their ferry overturned as it crossed the swollen Er-Rahad river, a tributary of the Blue Nile. It said three children were killed and dozens of people were hurt in Omdurman when a house collapsed as a result of the flood.

Water has begun seeping into houses along the Nile and has almost completely covered the large island of Tuti between Khartoum and Omdurman, which normally has 13,000 inhabitants.

The Blue Nile joins the White Nile at Khartoum to form the Nile River.

British cartographers lent to the U.N. relief operation are working on a contour map of the capital that will help determine at what height Nile waters would start pouring into the streets.

Update hourly