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Mozambique flooding to spread as more rain forecast

Residents flee to the roof of a house in Chokwe district, Mozambique, to escape the floods, on January 25, 2013. AFP PHOTO USSENE MAMUDO

MAPUTO: Mozambique on Monday warned that fresh rains could spread deadly floods to the north and centre of the country, as the number affected was expected to rise to well over 100,000.

At least 40 people have died in floods that have paralysed the south of the country since a red alert was announced on 22 January.

With several major southern towns in the path of the Limpopo river still abandoned or on high alert, central and southern Mozambique was now in the firing line.

Authorities are warning that heavy rains predicted for the coming days will mean that serious flooding will spread to the Zambezi basin.

"We have more rain predicted for Zambezia province and in the north of Sofala where it is already raining," Rita Almeida, a spokeswoman for Mozambique's National Disaster Management Institute, told AFP.

Sofala is home to Beira, Mozambique's second city, which lies around 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) along the coast from Maputo.

"We are asking people to move out of houses that could be destroyed by rain," Alweida said.

Already, 160 millimeters has fallen in the Sofala province over the past two days.

"Over the next five days between 75 and 250 millimeters of rain is predicted," meteorologist Sergio Buque from Mozambique's national weather office said.

As the north and centre braced for impact, in the south the authorities battled to rescue and care for survivors.

Already 108,000 people have been affected by the floods, but it is expected that a fresh data later Monday will see that figure rise considerably.

"People in high-risk areas are still being rescued," Almeida said, explaining boats, helicopters and trucks were being used to transport people from more remote areas to temporary shelters set up by the government and aid agencies.

She said authorities did not yet know how many had been pulled to safety so far.

In Chokwe, a southern town that was completely rebuilt after the devastating floods of 2000, relief agencies have reported the entire population has now been moved to an evacuation zone.

Humanitarian agencies are struggling to respond to the scale of the crisis.

"The main needs are tents and clean water, but they basically need everything," said Katherine Mueller, a spokeswoman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

"There will be a huge need of sanitation, mosquito nets, shelter, kitchen sets and blankets as families begin returning home in the coming weeks."

The UN is coordinating relief efforts with NGOs and the Mozambique government’s disaster management agency.

On Friday, UNICEF pegged the total funding needed for humanitarian efforts at $15 million, but anticipated that number would rise dramatically as the situation is better assessed throughout the next few days.

 

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