At least two people have been killed after torrential rains triggered flash floods in Buea, the chief town of Cameroon's Southwest region, local authorities said Sunday, Trend reports citing Xinhua.
According to David Mafani Namange, mayor of Buea council, the flood was triggered by several hours of heavy rain Saturday which carried away cars and debris and inundated the basement and ground floors of some buildings, turning roads into rivers.
"Two corpses were recovered on Saturday. The material damage is quite huge. The women in the market have lost all their goods," Namange told Xinhua over the phone early Sunday while evaluating the damage caused by "the unprecedented" flood.
At least 10 people were receiving treatment in hospitals in the town after sustaining injuries from the disaster.
Speaking to pressmen after their tour of the damage sites, the South West Regional Delegates of Environment and Nature Protection and his counterpart of Scientific Research and Innovation, said floods in Buea are not a strange happening, given that it is community at the foot of the mountain.
According to Dr George Mafany Teke, South Regional Delegate of Scientific Research and Innovation, what happened was a flashflood.
“We experienced a flashflood in Buea on Saturday March 18, which is a natural phenomenon when there is very intense rain fall. In our case of Mount Cameroon, the rain fell at the higher reaches of the mountain and collated in the ravines and then flowed into the waterways downstream where there are settlements. Sometimes, the rain falls up the mountain without the people downstream knowing and when this happens, the water collates and may surprise people downstream,” he said.
On his part, the South West Regional Delegate of Environment and Nature Protection, Set Ekwadi, said such a phenomenon will be aggravated by climate change.
He, however, added that the high speed of the water was as a result of the lack of forests to absorb the water from the mountain. With the continuous cutting of trees up the mountain, he added, there are little factors to slow the pace of the water from the mountain.
Casualties, damage results of human activities
While the floods were a natural phenomenon, Dr George Mafany Teke, contended that the casualties and the damage resulted from human behaviour.
“The casualties we saw are a result of human behavior, because people have built and encroached into the waterways. So, when water flows down, its paths become blocked and it has to force its way. This is when it overflows and causes this destruction and damage,” Dr Mafany said.
To mitigate the consequences of floods on the people and their property, Set Ekwadi, urged the population to desist from building on gutters or natural waterways.
“People have to avoid building in the gutters, because we have natural water paths from the mountain. When people block them, we cannot challenge nature. People must also reduce the felling of trees in the mountain, so that they can absorb some of the water from the rains,” he noted.