Floods are submerging whole houses in Nigeria. At least 80 have died trying to escape

People stranded due to floods.

Abuja, NigeriaCNN — Seventy-six people have died as their boat capsized while they tried to flee dangerously high floodwaters that have inundated swathes of southern Nigeria.

The boat, carrying more than 80 people, capsized in the southeastern state of Anambra on Friday, as people desperately tried to escape floods that had risen as high as rooftops.

Recent flooding in the area had displaced up to 600,000 people, according to the country’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

Nigeria’s flood crisis has been disastrous this year, killing at least 300 people and affecting more than half a million people, NEMA said last month. NEMA warned of more catastrophic flooding for states located along the courses of rivers Niger and Benue, explaining that three of Nigeria’s overfilled reservoirs were expected to overflow.

The Anambra tragedy follows the devastating aftermath of a flood that swept through swaths of neighboring north-central Kogi state a week ago, leaving buildings submerged under water that rose to levels not seen in a decade, according to officials of the Kogi Red Cross Society.

At least six people, including a toddler, were reported to have died in Kogi’s worst-hit Ibaji district, which the state Governor Yahaya Bello said was “100% underwater.”

Bello described the flooding as a “humanitarian tragedy” in an October 1 address.

Kogi is located around 200 kilometers from Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. Kogi’s capital, Lokoja, is the meeting point for West Africa’s largest rivers, the Niger and Benue.

“As the two major rivers meet in Lokoja, they overwhelmed the banks of the Lower Niger river, hence the inundation,” environmentalist Simi Adeodun told CNN.

“Not only Lokoja is inundated right now, but most of the riparian communities along the fringes of River Benue in Nasarawa State … and River Niger traversing the boundary between Kwara and Niger states are also submerged.” he said.

The Kogi Red Cross Society said: “Many people have been rendered homeless in Lokoja … as houses were submerged by flood,” adding that some major roads in the capital city had been submerged.

“The roads served as a link between North Central and Southern parts of the country,” it said. “And many passengers were stranded.”

The Red Cross told CNN some of the deceased in Ibaji also lost their lives in a separate boat accident as they canoed through flood waters.

Bello said that nine areas along the Niger and Benue were affected.

“Ibaji [district] is almost 100% under water while the rest range from 30% up … We therefore have a serious and humanitarian tragedy on our hands, but I wish to assure every person, family and community which has been affected that they are not alone and that help is coming,” he said.


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