Floods: Mozambique evacuating 55 000

2013-01-22 17:20
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Maputo - Mozambique authorities on Tuesday started emergency evacuations in the flood-struck south where 55 000 people are said to be in immediate danger from rising water levels.

"We are asking people to move to safer areas. We estimate there are 55 000 people affected," a spokesperson for Mozambique's Disaster Relief Management Institute (INGC), Rita Almeida, told AFP.

Emergency teams are already in place and motorboats have been dispatched to the area to take people to safe ground.

The south and the centre of the country have been placed under red alert after experiencing the heaviest rainfalls seen since devastating floods killed around 800 people in 2000.

Today's inundations have already killed 35 people since the start of the rainy season in October and eight major rivers are above crisis levels.

From Sunday to Monday almost 185mm of rain poured over the Limpopo river basin in southern province Gaza, where the most vulnerable communities live.

Experts predict that the southern town of Chokwe - which saw water rise to roof level in previous floods - could again bear the brunt of the floods.

"We are registering very high water levels in the Limpopo and Inkomati rivers that could flood the town of Chokwe," said Almeida.

International organisations are preparing for the worst case-scenario.

"There is a big dyke in Chokwe that is giving problems. They are afraid if that dyke breaks, all those people will have to move rapidly," World Food Programme country head Lola Castro told AFP.

The evacuees would be taken to 10 temporary accommodation centres, she said.

Rains in neighbouring countries also swelled rivers, and authorities opened the sluices from two dams in the south to lower dangerous levels.

Coastal Mozambique is home to nine international river basins, making it especially vulnerable to flooding. Although the rainfall has stopped in most areas, the risk of flooding remains high as waters arrive from further inland.

- SAPA
Read more on:    mozambique  |  southern africa
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