JUBA – Fear has gripped Fangak County of South Sudan’s Jonglei State after officials and locals reported about 90 deaths from a mysterious illness since October, Radio Tamazuj reports.
The county commissioner Boutrus Biel told Radio Tamazuj that victims present with chest pains, vomiting, and diarrhea before succumbing.
“People are dying in Fangak County. It started on October 2 in the county headquarters, New Fangak town, and also the surrounding villages. So far, we lost 90 people especially the elderly and children after experiencing heart pains, vomiting, and diarrhea,” Biel said.
The commissioner says they suspect it is a waterborne disease linked to an oil spill in the county and called on the national government to urgently intervene.
He warns that the situation could soon worsen as the mysterious disease could wipe away livelihoods.
Jonglei state minister of gender and social welfare William Kuol Chol also called for urgent intervention, emphasizing that they have been baffled by the suffering of the locals there.
“Last week, a delegation led by the state cabinet minister was in Fangak. We confirmed that 85 people have died. And water there is contaminated by what appears like oil on water. Up to now, we are not able to know if the deaths are linked to the recent oil explosion in Ayod or the death is from other diseases caused by the floods,” he said.
For his part, George Wani Worri, the World Health Organization (WHO)’s coordinator in Jonglei, said: “We are aware about it. At this point, I cannot comment on it. But WHO has gone there and we will still be sending people.”
Last month, authorities in Ayod County warned of a dire health situation in Pagil Payam as suspected untapped crude oil contaminate floodwaters.