A senior Sudanese army officer said on Sunday scores of people were dying of hunger every day in an isolated southwestern town, and a Khartoum newspaper reported 8,000 people had died there so far.

Relief officials said hundreds of destitute people from several famine-hit southern districts were trekking north in search of food in towns that had little relief to offer.They said more than 30 people a day were dying in one such town, al-Meiram, to which refugees were flocking from the neighboring southwestern province of Bahr al-Ghazal.

"They arrive with barely any clothes on, no cattle and only water gourds," said one relief official after a visit to al-Meiram in the province of Southern Kordofan.

The military commander of Bahr al-Ghazal, Maj. Gen. Abugroun Abdullah Abugroun, was quoted as saying the same number of people died of hunger in the province's town of Aweil every day as were killed in northern Sudan by floods last month.

"The state is concerned with the north and ignores the south," he told Sunday's edition of the weekly Sawt al-Sharia.

"The fuss over the death of 64 people in the north as a result of the latest disaster proves it," he said, referring to the official death toll in floods in Khartoum.

"A similar number dies of hunger every day in Aweil and nobody is doing anything about it," he said.

The independent Khartoum daily al-Ayam quoted official reports as saying 8,000 people had died in Aweil, without giving a time period. Official comment on the report was not immediately available.

Relief officials said several international aid agencies were trying to arrange reconnaissance flights over Aweil to assess conditions.