100 feared dead in Somalia storm

MOGADISHU (AFP) - At least 100 people are feared dead in a ferocious storm battering Somalia's north-eastern Puntland region, the local government said on Monday, warning that hundreds more are missing.

"A tropical cyclone storm (has) wreaked death and destruction...the storm brought high wind speeds and torrential rains, causing flash floods," said a statement from Puntland's semi-autonomous government.

"Information collected from coastal areas via irregular telephone contact over the past 48 hours indicates that up to 100 people might have been killed, while hundreds of other people remain unaccounted for," it added.

The government is organising relief efforts, but also appealed for international support.

"Preliminary information also indicates that homes, buildings, boats and entire villages have been destroyed and over 100,000 livestock lost, endangering the livelihood of tens of thousands of local people," the government said.

Heavy rains and fierce winds are expected to continue until Wednesday, it added.

Impoverished Puntland, which forms the tip of the Horn of Africa, is run by its own government, although unlike neighbouring Somaliland, it has not declared independence from Somalia.

The often lawless region is also home to numerous warlords, as well as for many years hosting pirate gangs who raided far out into the Indian Ocean.

Somalia has been riven by civil war since the collapse of central government in 1991.

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