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SO | Nov 27, 2020

Eight dead after cyclone hits Somalia’s Puntland, spread of locusts feared

/ Our Today

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Cyclone Gati as seen from space over Ras Hafun, Somalia, on Sunday, November 22. (Photo: NASA Earth Observatory)

Tropical Cyclone Gati, which hit parts of Somalia earlier this week, has killed eight people and displaced thousands.

Hundreds of hectares of farmlands are flooded and there are growing fears the storm’s impact could worsen an ongoing locust plague, according to an official and United Nations agencies.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said on Thursday (November 26) Gati made landfall in the semi-autonomous Puntland region on Sunday and subsided on Tuesday, but moderate and light rain continues to fall.

Eight Yemeni fishermen had been killed by the cyclone, Mohamed Yusuf Boli, commissioner for the coastal district of Hafun told Reuters.

“It also destroyed many boats and houses. The town is in water and in bad situation,” Boli added.

In addition to the deaths, UNOCHA said the cyclone had displaced 42,000 people from their homes.

“The cyclone has disrupted livelihoods by destroying fishing gear, killing livestock, and flooding agricultural land and crops.” the agency said in a report.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said earlier this week the cyclone could also allow immature desert locust swarms in Hargeisa and Jigjiga in Ethiopia to mature faster and lay eggs.

The effect of the cyclone could also be to let the swarms to move south east to Ogaden region and lay eggs there too, the FAO said.

The insect plague hitting Somalia is part of a once-in-a-generation succession of swarms that have swept across East Africa and the Red Sea region since late 2019, driven by unusual weather patterns.

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