Floods worsen misery in Mozambique, 47 dead

MAPUTO, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Floods in northern Mozambique have killed 47 people, a government spokesman said on Monday as heavy rains lashed more misery on the impoverished southern African country.

Over 200,000 people have been displaced or have lost their belongings because of flooding in northern Nampula province, said Rogerio Manguel, spokesman for the Mozambique government Institute of Natural Disaster Management, told Reuters on Monday.

Drought has already ravaged the south of the country which is one of the developing world's poorest but fastest growing economies. The U.N. World Food Programme estimates more than half a million people suffer from food shortages there.

"The latest deaths resulted from electrical discharges, drowning and the collapse of houses,'' Manguel said. He added that 46,000 houses had been destroyed while 34,000 hectares (84,000 acres) of crops have been devastated since the flooding began in early January.

To alleviate the crisis, the agriculture ministry was purchasing about 136 tonnes of local maize, rice and bean seeds for distribution to the rain victims, officials said.

To make matters worse, an outbreak of cholera has killed 33 people since it broke out two months ago.

Nine people starved to death in January in the remote northern province of Tete, where floods drove thousands of people from their homes and hampered relief efforts.

More than 14 million people in six southern African countries -- Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Swaziland and Lesotho -- face food shortages because drought and floods destroyed crops in the 2001/2002 season.

Floods swamped Mozambique in 2000, killing 700 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless, prompting an appeal to foreign donors for almost $500 million in reconstruction aid. Floods hit the country again in 2001.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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