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Thursday, 1 February, 2001, 15:43 GMT
Mozambique flood damage spreads
Man wading through water
Thousands were displaced by last year's flooding
By Jose Tembe in Maputo

Heavy rains in Mozambique are continuing to cause damage.

Now the road linking the Mozambican port city of Beira to Zimbabwe has in effect been cut off by the flood waters of the Pungue River in Sofala province.

The death toll from flooding in neighbouring Zambezia province, which was the first to be hit by persistent torrential rains, has now risen to seven.

These latest problems come at a time when the country is still trying to get over the flooding of last year.

Road impassable

The Central Regional Water Board has warned motorists not to use the Beira road because a bridge about 70 kilometres west of the city is completely under water.

Map of Mozambique
The levels of the Pungoe and Buzi rivers have been rising rapidly following the torrential rains, which have been falling in Sofala province since the weekend.

Buzi was one of the rivers responsible for the catastrophic floods of February last year.

The water board says it is continuing to monitor the situation, and is issuing alerts, warning people living in areas at risk to seek higher ground.

In Beira, dozens of houses built of flimsy materials have collapsed, and many others have been invaded by the storm waters. About 1,000 people have fled their homes and taken refuge in city schools.

Danger to health

In Beira, the rains have also soaked and dispersed piles of uncollected rubbish. This poses serious risks to public health which is already bad because of outbreaks of malaria and cholera.

Family walking through flood waters
Transport is getting difficult
In addition, fallen electricity cables have already claimed two lives by electrocution.

The death toll from flooding in the neighbouring province of Zambezia, the first to be hit by rains and floods, has risen to seven, with three other people reported missing and feared drowned.

Transport Minister Tomaz Salomao, who flew over flooded areas of the province on Wednesday, described the situation in the small town of Nante as serious.

Mr Salomao said there is a need to reinforce the existing rescue means. So far, there are 14 boats and two helicopters.

The Zambezia provincial governor, Luca Chomera, says the province needs more than $700,000 to cope with the heavy rains and flooding. There is an urgent need to improve roads, water supply, sanitation and food aid.

Mr Chomera said priority would also be given to re-opening Zambezia's access routes in order to normalise people's lives and facilitate aid distribution, including seeds and agricultural tools.

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See also:

29 Jan 01 | Africa
Mozambique hit by new floods
04 May 00 | Africa
Mozambique floods: Full coverage
01 Mar 00 | Africa
Mozambique: Nature takes its toll
03 May 00 | Africa
Mozambique picks up the pieces
31 Dec 00 | Africa
Mozambique braces for floods
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