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Nigeria triggers national response plan for annual deadly floods; 14 states on alert

Nigeria triggers national response plan for annual deadly floods; 14 states on alert
Men ride on motor cycles through a flooded street following a heavy downpour in   -  
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Sunday Alamba/AP2011


The Nigerian government has activated its national response plan ahead of what's expected to be another round of annual flooding related to climate change, with several states seen as hotspots on alert, authorities told The Associated Press on Thursday.

After last year's floods that killed more than 600 people, Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency said it has begun to work ahead of what's predicted to be another dangerous deluge. The agency has sought air support from the country's air force and has activated its offices for quick response across the country, spokesman Manzo Ezekiel said.

"As it is, the (flooding) outlook is still very gloomy and we are doing our best to raise awareness and get the various agencies to prepare accordingly," said Ezekiel.

The West African nation suffers deadly flooding every year often as a result of ignored environmental guidelines and inadequate infrastructure. 

However, last year's floods worsened by unusual rainfalls and the release of excess water from a dam in neighboring Cameroon resulted in record deaths and destroyed more than 340,000 hectares (about 840,158 acres) of land in 33 of the country's 36 states and the capital city.

Extreme weather conditions worsened by human activities like building on waterways is predicted to cause flooding in several states. Less rainfall is expected than last year, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency said.

"As a result of climate change, we've been seeing extreme weather events like unusual rainfall (and) unusual heat," said Ibrahim Wasiu, head of the meteorological agency's forecasting unit. "Climate change plays a role."

As many as 14 states are on alert for floods in the coming days, according to a new alert published Wednesday by the Federal Ministry of Environment. It urged the states to take precautionary measures to prevent the loss of lives.

Several states have already experienced flooding this year, including the capital city of Abuja where days of downpour swept away many houses and blocked major roads, prompting authorities to mark hundreds of houses for demolition.

"The most important thing is to put people in a safe disposition," Ezekiel with the disaster management agency said. "Our focus is to see how people as much as possible will not be affected by the floods."

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