DONKI DEREISA / EL DAEIN /EL TAWEISHA –
Five children died, and thousands of people have been left homeless, after wind whipped a house fire into an inferno that swept through Donki Dereisa in El Salam, South Darfur, on Saturday, and destroyed 75 per cent of the village. Another child died in a fire in East Darfur on the same day, and 75 homes were burned to the ground in El Taweisha in North Darfur on Friday.
Destitute villagers told Radio Dabanga that the Donki Dereisa fire initially broke out in one of the houses, however the strong wind caused it to spread quickly to the rest of the village, which is one of the largest in the locality.
The fire led to the death of five children, the eldest of whom is six, villagers told Radio Dabanga. 75 per cent of the village was destroyed, including more than 3,000 homes, and more than 140 shops and restaurants burned to the ground. Hundreds of livestock also succumbed to the blaze.
In the aftermath, while the full extent of the damage is still be assessed, thousands of people made homeless and left destitute by the fire, are reportedly living in the open in poor humanitarian conditions.
In a statement on Friday, the director of El Salam described what happened as “a great tragedy”, and lamented that the locality does not have any resources to compensate those affected, who are in dire need of water, food, shelter, clothing, and health services.
He appealed to the South Darfur and Sudanese governments to aid the victims, most of whom were previously displaced, but returned voluntarily to their place of origin.
Activists among the victims told Radio Dabanga that they fear the spread of diseases due to the lack of latrines, the death of livestock and animals, the emission of fire residues by the wind, as well as acute shortage of food.
The acting governor of East Darfur, Mohamed Abdelrahman, reported that also on Saturday, a fire claimed the life of a child in the El Neem camp for the displaced, north of the state capital El Daein.
During his visit to the El Naseem neighbourhood in the camp where the inferno broke out, the governor said that the fire destroyed 173 houses and caused great losses in livestock and foodstuffs, in addition to seeds, property and documents.
Other fires destroyed more than 300 homes in four different areas of the state, he said. East Darfur witnessed fires in Seleia in Yasin locality, which destroyed 154 homes.
In North Darfur, fires consumed 75 houses in Eyal Amin village in El Taweisha on Friday.
Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that “fires frequently break out from the ground these days” and said that the people in the area are “in a state of panic, because of the repeated fires”.
The authorities did not give reasons for the outbreak of the fires, however, as previously reported by Radio Dabanga in February, North Darfur Wali (governor) Nimir Abdelrahman decided to send a technical team of geologists to Meleisa village to investigate the causes of the frequent fires there.
After the meeting, the Director General of the North Darfur Water Sector, Abdelshafi Abdallah Adam, said that he suspects that these fires, which date back to 2014, may have geological causes, such as the rocks and soil quality, thermal emission of phosphorous and methane gases, or old environmental waste and pollution.
The technical team is expected to return with soil samples. “The laboratory results will most probably provide a decisive answer.”