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With a rising death toll, Kenya's military evacuates people from flood-hit areas

People wade through a section of a road destroyed by floods in Mandera County, Kenya, Wednesday.
Brian Inganga
/
AP
People wade through a section of a road destroyed by floods in Mandera County, Kenya, Wednesday.

MANDERA, Kenya (AP) — Kenya's military hastened efforts Thursday to evacuate hundreds of people trapped by raging floods that have hit many parts of the East African country.

Floods have killed at least 170 and displaced more than 600,000 since the onset of heavy rains in November, according to the Red Cross, which is helping to coordinate the rescue efforts.

Tens of thousands of people in Northern Kenya have lost livestock, farmland and homes due to the floods described by aid groups as the worst in 100 years. An international team of scientists reported last week that human-caused climate change has made the ongoing rains in Eastern Africa up to two times more intense.

An aerial view shows a flooded area in Mandera County, Kenya, Wednesday.
Brian Inganga / AP
/
AP
An aerial view shows a flooded area in Mandera County, Kenya, Wednesday.

Kenya's meteorological department has warned that heavy rains will continue into the new year. It is urging people living in lowlands and flood-prone areas to evacuate.

"While I was running away from the rains and the flood waters, I fell down and broke my hand. After the incident my family and I came here to the displacement camp," Gabey Aliow Issak, 65, in the town of Mandera.

On Wednesday, British High Commissioner Neil Wigan visited remote Mandera County, where a severe drought a year ago wiped out the livelihoods of residents in many communities.

Residents gather for a planned distribution of food, after El Niño rains damaged their houses in Mandera County, Kenya, Wednesday. Rains began pounding the country in October. At the end of November Kenya President William Ruto convened an emergency cabinet meeting saying 38 of Kenya's 47 counties had been affected by floods and mudslides made worse by the El Niño phenomenon.
Brian Inganga / AP
/
AP
Residents gather for a planned distribution of food, after El Niño rains damaged their houses in Mandera County, Kenya, Wednesday. Rains began pounding the country in October. At the end of November Kenya President William Ruto convened an emergency cabinet meeting saying 38 of Kenya's 47 counties had been affected by floods and mudslides made worse by the El Niño phenomenon.

"Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing everyone in the world, but you see very acutely in places like northern Kenya, where the impact of the drought and livestock dying and now the flood on people's livelihood has been absolutely enormous," Wigan said. "We are committed to dealing with both the short-term consequences, what we can do for cash grants, foods, medicine and other vital supplies but how can we build systems nationally and internationally to deal with the effects of climate change."

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The Associated Press