Story highlights

Nearly a month of heavy rain has destroyed homes, crops and barns, killed livestock

The death toll is expected to grow as bodies are collected in the country's Far North Region

A dam fracture has caused a river to flood villages

Government response criticized as aid trickles in to flood victims

(CNN) —  

Cameroon authorities have found six more bodies in flood waters, bringing the number killed to as high as 40 in the wake of tropical downpours and the breaching of a dam in the west African country.

More than 4,000 people in the Logone and Shari division were displaced, and more than 22,000 people in the region of Maga, Mayo-Danay division, also have been affected.

Cameroon’s Communication Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary has described the flooding as “a calamity” and called for urgent action to save lives and property. Local officials are calling it the worst flood disaster in over 60 years.

Water has submerged swaths of the North Region downstream, wiping out homes, farms and livestock, and Cameroon’s government has dispatched a military contingency to assist and evacuate victims.

Cameroon’s government has dispatched a military contingent to the area to help and evacuate victims, and the government of Morocco sent food and other aid Saturday.

Aid agencies Plan International Cameroon and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) fear infectious diseases - in particular cholera and malaria - could spread with the water, as is often the case. About 3,000 people have been hospitalized, and tents have been erected to house victims.

Food supplies are running low, boosting worries about malnutrition, and tent shelters are inadequate for the tens of thousands of displaced flood victims, said Demian Toh from the Red Cross.

In 2010, flooding in northern Cameroon triggered an outbreak of cholera that claimed nearly 6,000 lives, according to official estimates.

In neighboring Nigeria, dozens of dead bodies have been found floating in remote areas of Adamawa state. Officials there are blaming Cameroon for not alerting them before excess water was released from the Lagdo Dam.

The disaster is being called the worst flooding in Cameroon in more than 60 years. Opposition party member Paul Ayah Abine said the casualties and the insufficient aid given to the thousands of victims show clearly that the government has a fragile emergency unit that cannot predict and respond quickly to natural disasters.