- Hundreds of people were homeless in Nigeria’s northwestern Zamfara state on Monday after a dam collapsed at the weekend, washing away more than 500 houses, officials and residents said.
The Barrage Dam located outside the state capital, Gusau, gave way on Saturday afternoon following more than 24 hours of heavy rain, Zamfara governor Sani Yerimah told reporters on Sunday.
“The water came with excessive force and caused so much destruction,” he said.
Yerimah said about 40 people who were initially feared dead were later found.
However, more than 98 people, mainly women and children, remain unaccounted for in the worst hit village of Birnin Ruwa, the village head, Muhammadu Ruwa, told reporters.
“We can’t find them and we’re afraid they may have died in the flood,” Ruwa said.
Rescue teams comprising military personnel, fire service officers and local residents on Monday continued the search for missing persons. Thousands of people displaced by the flood are staying at temporary shelters in primary and secondary schools around Gusau.
Apart from destroying homes, the water also washed away many acres of farmland and some people have lost their entire season’s crop. Wells on which people depend for drinking water have also been polluted by the floodwaters.
Sluice gates used to let water out of the reservoir failed to function, causing the rain to overwhelm the dam, said an official of the Zamfara Water Board, which operates the dam that supplies water to Gusau.
Zamfara is part of Nigeria’s relatively arid Sahel belt, which faces torrential rains between August and October, often leading to large-scale flooding.
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