JOHANNESBURG, 10 February (IRIN) -
Driving rain and overflowing rivers in Botswana have left hundreds homeless
and severed the country's main road and rail arteries in what police described
on Thursday as some of the worst floods experienced in past 30 years.
The weather bureau reported that about 371 mm of rain had fallen in southern Botswana in the past three days. This figure, it said, amounted to three quarters of the average annual rainfall of 500 mm in one of the most arid nations in southern Africa. It said the rains were expected to last at least through the weekend.
"At least one person was confirmed dead in widespread floods following the torrential rains which started on Saturday," a local news report said on Thursday.
Police spokesman Joshua Eimbo was quoted as saying most of Botswana's major roads were impassable. The main route linking Gaborone with the north of the country, was washed away near the town of Morwa, about 70 km north of the capital. The country's north-south railway line linking it with South Africa and Zimbabwe had been closed, while crops in many areas were destroyed, officials said.
AN AFP dispatch said that in Kopong village, about 30 km from Gaborone, residents had been forced to seek refuge on rooftops after the Metsimotlhabe river burst its banks.
Local radio broadcast warnings to the public to be alert for collapsing infrastructure, and people advised against attempting to cross fast flowing rivers. Police and the country's emergency services were assisting people rendered homeless.
The flooding has also devastated other neighbouring countries. An IRIN Focus report on the situation can be viewed at: http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN/sa/countrystories/other/20000208.htm
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