MOGADISHU, Nov. 5 (Xinhua) -- The Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) on Tuesday expressed fears that floods could trigger deadly outbreaks of malaria, diarrhea, and other infectious diseases in Somalia.
Abdi Abdullahi, who leads SRCS operations in Beledweyne, said hundreds of thousands of people have already been forced to leave their homes as more rain is expected in the coming weeks.
"These floods have already cost lives and our concern is that another fatal disaster is on its way," said Abdullahi in a statement issued in Mogadishu.
"Thousands are living in the open and outbreaks of disease can easily take hold," he said. "The main hospital in the area is flooded and many are cut off from our clinic."
The charity said more than 50 SRCS volunteers are in Beledweyne town, responding to the immediate aftermath of the floods.
Last week, the SRCS recovered seven bodies from the floodwaters and evacuated 137 people by boat. A mobile clinic has also been set up to provide care to people moving to higher ground in Eljale, 10 km from Beledweyne town, it said.
"We are on high alert, but much more will be needed, especially clean water and sanitation, to prevent people from falling ill," said Yusuf Hassan Mohamed, president of the SRCS. "We are racing to scale up our response, but the floods have made it impossible to bring relief and medical supplies in by air to Beledweyne and many areas are hard to reach."
Heavy rains in Somalia and the Ethiopian highlands sparked wide-scale flooding in October.
The charity said Beledweyne town, which sits on the banks of the Shabelle River, was among the hardest-hit areas, with entire neighborhoods submerged in water and crops destroyed.
The SRCS said it is working closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross to deliver tarpaulins, mosquito nets, cooking utensils as well as water treatment tablets to approximately 4,000 families left homeless by the floods.