|04DJIBOUTI540||2004-04-14 13:36:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Djibouti|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
1. (U) Summary: Heavy rains and flooding earlier
this week have resulted in loss of life and severe
damage to Djibouti's infrastructure. This damage
will present longer term dangers to the economic
and social health of the country, including
possible outbreaks of cholera, typhoid and malaria.
Djiboutian officials have confirmed 46 dead and
believe thousands to be homeless. There are no
reports of U.S. citizen casualties. Minister of
Interior Abdoulkader Wais has requested assistance
from the U.S. Post is working with the Government
of Djibouti, other major donors (particularly the
French), the U.S. military, International
Organizations and NGOs to coordinate our response.
An official request for disaster assistance will
follow septel. End Summary.
2. (U) Heavy rains on April 13 caused severe flooding
in Djibouti City. Flash floods, caused by dikes
breaking in the Ambouli Wadi (river bed that is dry
most of the year), have caused extensive damage in
several neighborhoods of the city, destroying many
structures and damaging the contents of homes and
businesses. The main route through Djibouti to the
outer sections of Djibouti City was cut off by
flooding rapids at 5:00 PM, April 13. As of 11:00 am,
April 14, 46 bodies had been recovered, only half of
which have been identified. The death toll will
continue to rise as more bodies are found. Estimates
on the street are in the range of 150 people dead.
The Government of Djibouti has made general and
specific requests for assistance to the U.S.
government and the French military, as it lacks
adequate technical, material and financial resources
to fully recover from the floods.
3. (U) The highest priority for the government is to
evacuate the floodwaters from homes and streets as
quickly as possible. This is in effort to prevent
epidemics of Cholera and Typhoid similar to the
aftermath of the 1994 and 1999 floods. Since the
ground has been saturated by watershed from heavy
rains in Ethiopia and Somalia, the evaporation of
the waters could take weeks. The stagnating water
will also expand the potential for Cholera, Typhoid
and Malaria outbreaks. Priority needs for the
government are provisions and immediate shelter,
medicine and vaccinations, water pumps, tents, and
blankets. Relief efforts are being coordinated by
the Office of Civil Protection.
4. (U) Roads into Djibouti from Ethiopia have several
points where nothing larger than an SUV can pass,
making transportation of commodities by truck virtually
impossible. The Djibouti-Ethiopian Railroad also has
three major washout points that will take several weeks
to repair. This will affect both the commerce in
Djibouti and Ethiopia, as a large portion of the
imported goods come from Ethiopia and almost all food
aid to Ethiopia goes through Djibouti.
5. (U) The government estimates that 90 percent of the
city's population has been affected and at least
100,000 persons have been displaced. Already there
are 600 displaced persons housed in a school in the
Balbala section, one of the higher points of the city.
There are three schools that are severely flooded
within the city and the Ministry of Education has
suspended classes until Saturday.
6. (U) U.S. Embassy local employees have also been
affected severely, as most live in the two
neighborhoods hit hardest by the flooding. The extent
of the local employee needs is not yet known, however,
no loss of life among the Embassy community has been