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Kenya's rail operator halts cargo services to Mombasa port after floods

Sunday November 19, 2023

[1/2] People wade through flood waters along a street following heavy rains in Kisauni district of Mombasa, Kenya November 17, 2023. REUTERS/Stringer Acquire Licensing Rights

Flooding and landslides in Kenya's coastal region have halted rail cargo services to and from the port city of Mombasa, the state-owned rail operator said on Saturday.

Heavy rains linked to the El Nino phenomenon, followed by flash floods, have submerged towns across East Africa, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless.

In Kenya, the death toll from the floods stands at at least 46, and is expected to rise.

Floods and a landslide on the railway line between the capital Nairobi and Mombasa have forced Kenya Railways to close all cargo services, it said in a statement.

The railway also moves cargo to other countries in the region, including Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan.

Kenya Railways said limited passenger services would continue.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics showed its standard gauge railway hauled 6 million metric tons of cargo last year, from 5.4 million a year earlier.

In neighbouring Somalia, 41 deaths have been recorded due to heavy rains and floods. The number displaced has almost doubled to 649,000 in the past week, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its latest update on Saturday.

El Nino is a warming of ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific, and can provoke extreme weather phenomena from wildfires to tropical cyclones and prolonged droughts.

Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Alex Richardson and Ros Russell


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