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El Nino Rains Hit East Africa

  • Sunday, March 1, 1998

Intermittent torrential winter rains linked to the El Nino weather system have pounded parts of Africa, taking a toll on people and wildlife alike.

Several parks and reserves reported flooding in low-lying areas. In Tanzania, about 500 hippos and crocodiles and 1,500 wildebeest, antelopes, gazelles and buffaloes, drowned in flooded game sanctuaries in Serengeti and Tarangire national parks in Tanzania. The Ngorongoro Crater filled with rain water, widening the lake at the bottom of the crater and forcing animals away from its center.

In Nairobi rains crippled public transportation, flooded homes, schools, businesses and roads and destroyed crops worth millions of dollars in several areas of Kenya. Emergency food supplies were distributed in Kenya. In Tanzania officials warned of a famine threat.

The increase in mosquitos has lead to outbreaks of malaria and other infectous diseases.

El Nino is a change in the ocean-atmosphere system in the eastern Pacific that basically shifts the position of jet stream winds and causes higher ocean temperatures. The result is unusual weather patterns far away as Antarctica and Africa.

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