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Ivory Coast rainy season death toll reaches 39

ABIDJAN -- Flooding and landslides during the Ivory Coast's rainy season have killed 39 people over the last month, officials said Friday.

The majority died on June 19, when 23 people were killed in overnight landslides in the economic hub Abidjan, but several weeks of torrential rain have continued to cause flooding across the country.

“This toll also includes disasters that have happened in the interior of the country,” said Fiacre Kili, who leads the national civil protection office.

Last weekend, five people were killed when flooding hit villages near Grand Lahou, west of the capital, while hundreds of houses were destroyed in the town itself, many of them because of landslides.

Abidjan has seen a number of flooding-related deaths in recent years, with victims tending to live in slums with poor housing and infrastructure, backing onto land which gives way under heavy rains.

In June 2009, 21 people died in the city, while seven lost their lives in 2008 and 11 in 2011.

A month of almost-continuous rain has caused precipitation in the country to rise well above normal levels, although the situation has improved in the last few days.

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