The death toll from Ethiopia's worst ever flash floods climbed to 250 Thursday and was expected to rise as crews searched for more bodies, authorities said.

Six days after a river burst its banks following torrential rains, more than 10,000 people were still homeless and 300 remained missing.

The search from the flooding that hit Dire Dawa, about 310 miles east of the capital, Addis Ababa, has stretched for nearly 20 miles along the river.

Police spokesman Binyam Fikru told The Associated Press that the floods were blamed for 250 deaths.

"This is the worst flood that we have ever recorded," Fikru said. "We are no longer looking for survivors. We are now concentrating on finding dead bodies."

More than 600 rescuers have been using earth movers and their bare hands to dig through mud and debris after the deluge, which washed away people, cars, trees and entire buildings.

The United Nations has released food aid for 10,000 people, and other agencies have provided blankets, clean water and other supplies. Some flood victims were sheltered in schools, while others remained where their former houses once stood, U.N. officials said.

Ethiopia is one of the world's poorest nations, with an average per capita income of just $100 a year. Besides flooding, the country suffers from chronic food shortages affecting as many as 5 million people annually.

CountryWatch: Ethiopia