- "The number of people killed will go up," government spokesman says
- The cyclone triggers days of heavy rains and flash floods
- Bridges toppled in Puntland region, home of famed pirate hub of Eyl
Somalia appealed for international help after a cyclone hit the northern region this week, killing at least 115 people, and sweeping livestock and homes into the ocean.
"The number of people killed will go up," said Ahmed Adan, a spokesman for the Somali prime minister. "Most of the area is devastated. Whole villages were swept away. Some of the parts we can't even reach, a lot of people are missing."
The cyclone made landfall Sunday in the semi-autonomous Puntland region.
It triggered days of heavy rains and flash floods that swept homes, boats, cows, goats and other farm animals into the Indian Ocean. The region heavily depends on agriculture as a source of income.
In a news statement, the African Union Mission in Somalia said up to 300 people are feared dead and hundreds unaccounted for.
Clean water, blankets, nonperishable foods, medicine and helicopters to reach the affected areas are among the most crucial needs, Adan said.
"There is a particularly urgent need for temporary shelter to protect the many displaced and vulnerable people from the elements," Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon said in a statement. "I appeal to international aid agencies to provide any assistance they can to the thousands of people affected by this devastating cyclone."
Areas affected include Dangaroyo and Eyl, the latter a hub where pirates launch attacks on vessels traveling in the shipping lanes of the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.
The self-governing Puntland region has long maintained that it cut ties with the Somali government over power squabbles. Somalia pledged $1 million to help those affected by the cyclone.
Cyclones, typhoons and hurricanes are regional names for severe storms.
What's referred to as a typhoon in the northwest Pacific Ocean is considered a cyclone in the Indian Ocean and a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean.