Rains and heavy floods which are creating havoc across Mozambique, Swaziland, South Africa and Botswana were forecast to continue for at least another three days, the South African Weather Bureau said on Friday.
At least 70 people were reported to have died as rivers burst their banks and homes were swept away in large swathes of territory in all four countries.
"This has been a freak event and is totally abnormal," a weather bureau spokesman said. "Although rain is expected in the region at this time of year, we have had too much rain."
Tens of thousands of people were left homeless, and in Mozambique, the country worst-hit, a major humanitarian operation is underway. An IRIN Focus report on the situation in the region can be viewed at:http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN/sa/countrystories/other/20000208.htm
SWAZILAND: Floods sever water mains
Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland is experiencing water shortages after floods severed the city's water mains, the 'Swazi Observer' reported on Friday. It said this had affected the country's main government hospital.
Quoting a Water Services Corporation technician, the report said: "The soil layer underneath the pipes had been softened by the persistent rains, hence the pipes easily broke." The technician added that if the rains persisted, residents of Mbabane and surrounding areas might not have water for the whole of next week because of the difficulty in replacing burst pipes in rainy conditions.
ZIMBABWE: IMF visit
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is sending a mission to Zimbabwe next week to review the country's economic performance, news reports said on Friday.
The visit from 16-24 February will form the basis of a report to be presented to the IMF board. It would also keep the door open to negotiations over the disbursement of outstanding balance-of-payments support.
The IMF withheld this support over Zimbabwe's failure to meet agreed economic targets, the news reports said. Meanwhile, a World Bank team is currently in the country working on a social protection programme. The World Bank, in line with the IMF, has withheld funding for Zimbabwe worth over US $100 million.
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