South Africa comes to aid of flood-hit Mozambique

By Paul Fauvet

MAPUTO, Feb 9 (Reuters) - South Africa said on Wednesday it was providing emergency relief to neighbouring Mozambique, where floods have isolated cities and left 100,000 people needing aid.

Government officials in Maputo said tens of thousands of hectares (acres) of farmland had been washed away after the Incomate, Sabie Ubmeluzi, Movene and Maputo rivers burst their banks following heavy rains since the weekend.

In neighbouring South Africa, the national parks authority said it had closed rest camps in the south of the famous Kruger National Park, swamped by three days of rains which caused 26 deaths, devastated parts of the Northern and Mpumalanga provinces and hit parts of the commercial capital Johannesburg.

In Botswana, officials said dams were overflowing and mud huts in villages collapsed after a week of torrential rains.

Witnesses said the Mozambique capital Maputo, a city of one million, was isolated and entry into the city was impossible. South Africa's air force sent rescue missions to help people trapped and made homeless, and the government in Pretoria warned South Africans not to travel to Maputo.

Officials said helicopters and boats were plucking up people clinging onto trees or stranded on rooftops, and even on the top of agricultural machines.

Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano said his government would in the next few days formally appeal to the international community for assistance.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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