Archaeology horror: Ancient African pyramids threatened by extreme floods

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Sudanese authorities are racing to protect the country’s ancient pyramids after heavy rains caused the nearby River Nile to reach record-breaking levels. Sandbag walls have been erected to block flood water from wearing the stone structures away from their base. Water is also being continuously pumped out of the areas near the sites, archaeologist Marc Maillot told AFP.

The area is home to a host of ruins more than 2,300 years old.

Nationwide floods have killed nearly 100 people, with thousands more displaced.

The Nile’s bank regularly bursts with flood water, providing farmers with fertile land.

However, the extent and length of this year’s flooding has been described as unusual.

Mr Maillot said: “The floods had never affected the site before.

“The situation is currently under control, but if the level of the Nile continues to rise, the measures taken may not be sufficient.”

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The site affected, al-Barjrawiya, is a UN-designated World Heritage site.

The area, 200km (125 miles) north-east of the capital, Khartoum, is home to hundreds of archaeological relics.

Pyramids, temples, palaces and other places of interest that “testify to the wealth and power of the Kushite State” frequent the location.

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The UN’s cultural organisation, UNESCO, says the relics prove how big a player Sudan was in the region for more than 1,000 years from the eighth century BC.

The damage caused by the flooding is so wide-ranging that the government declared a three-month state of emergency.

Authorities say more than 500,000 people have been affected in 17 of the country’s 18 states.

The 99 recorded deaths have been caused by drowning, mudslides and buildings collapsing.

The water ministry said the level of the Blue Nile – the Nile’s main tributary – has risen to 17.57 metres.

This is the highest level since records began more than a century ago.

More than 100,000 people in Khartoum state alone are in need of shelter after having lost their homes.

The UN’s humanitarian organisation, OCHA, has warned that “the situation could deteriorate”.

It says that there are heavy rains forecast for neighbouring Ethiopia and parts of Sudan which could lead to a rise in the level of the Blue Nile.

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