Nigerian floods kill at least 600 people in central region, including Lagos, governor says .

More than 600 killed in Nigeria’s worst flooding in a decade

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — At least 600 people died as floods pounded parts of Nigeria’s central region, including the capital, more than two weeks of torrential rains and gusting winds.

Most of the deaths were caused by drowning and collapsed houses, and many of the areas hardest hit were in the oil-rich Niger Delta, the nation’s largest producer of oil and the fourth-biggest exporter after the U.S., Canada and China.

The floods, which began June 3, killed at least 682 people as of Tuesday, including 459 at the height of the devastation on Saturday, the civil defense and medical officials said.

Hundreds of people were taken to hospital, including 10 children brought to hospital on their own as the rainwater rose around them, said the governor of Bayelsa state, who did not want to be named.

At least three people from the nearby coastal city of Port Harcourt died, said the state spokesman, Femi Falana.

“The current situation is a disaster in the making,” Falana said, adding that the city’s main hospital was in a state of panic. “The hospital is full, people are coming in from everywhere. The situation is very critical.”

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a state of emergency for Bayelsa and four other southern states, but the flooding is not likely to prevent construction crews from beginning work on the country’s largest oil pipeline from Lake Chad to the eastern city of Lagos. The line, the world’s largest oil pipeline, runs over the ocean between Nigeria and Cameroon.

Jonathan, a veteran political analyst who lost the 2011 presidential election to former military ruler Goodluck Ababio, vowed that the government and oil companies would work together to provide relief.

“We will rebuild our nation,” the president told reporters. “We will make sure that all Nigerians — oil, gas and other related industries — will benefit from the resumption of oil production.”

He said the floodwaters were “pouring in” on Lagos, the nation’s chief city, and called for a complete stop on operations at the port, but it was unclear if that would happen.

“What is the need to stop the port for two weeks? What is that doing to our people

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