Abidjan: Fifteen people died in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s economic capital, during flooding caused by torrential rain overnight, Interior Minister Sidiki Diakite said on Tuesday.
Rain poured down from 11pm on Monday night to 6am on Tuesday, causing flash floods up to 2.5 metres deep, he said.
Rescue teams saved 115 people and searches were under way for other casualties, he said, adding that emergency medical centres had been set up across the seaside city.
A city of five million, Abidjan suffers from infrastructure problems and many homes are built in flood-prone areas.
The affected areas ranged from the posh Cocody neighbourhood, where many embassies and the presidential palace are located, to the teeming working-class Yopougon neighbourhood.
“Many residents are perched on the roofs of their homes,” Fiacre Kili, the head of the civil protection agency said. “Searches are going on.”
Several homes were flooded and boundary walls were toppled in the upscale Cocody and Riviera neighbourhoods. An AFP photographer saw many cars washed away from driveways.
“I have never seen anything like this in my life,” said a resident, whose car was swept 600 metres from the house.
Ivory Coast’s rainy season extends from April to October and rainfall is more abundant on the coast.
Every year, flash flooding claims several lives. Torrential rains on May 29, 1996 killed 28 people in Abidjan.