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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 17:51 GMT
Mozambique seeks urgent flood aid
Car drives through floods (file photo)
Hundreds died when Mozambique was hit by floods in 2001
Relief efforts are stepping up in flood-hit Mozambique, as aid agencies face a fresh humanitarian crisis in the southern African nation.

Officials are considering an emergency appeal for food and supplies as 45,000 evacuees remain stranded in makeshift accomodation centres.

Twenty-nine people have died in the floods since December, with unconfirmed reports of 10 more casualties.

And there is little hope of a let-up, with more rain expected this week.

Final escape

On Cocorico Island, a UN helicopter rescued some of the 120 stranded villagers, aided by relief workers on canoes and motorboats, AP news agency reported.

Temporary camps housing tens of thousands of evacuees are running short of basic supplies such as food and fuel, Mozambique's National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) has said.

"The people have been there for over a week without proper feeding ... they are isolated and we can't go there by road and we have to airlift some of them and drop food," INGC national director Paulo Zucula told Reuters news agency.

"We now have to change our focus from rescue operations to the accommodation centres. We will consider an emergency appeal if the flooding situation continues."

Vital supplies

Aid organisation Oxfam has announced it will airlift 14 tonnes of water and hygiene equipment to the inundated Zambesi Valley.

The flight, due to arrive on Friday, will provide relief for 25,000 people, Oxfam said.

On Tuesday, the UN World Food Program (WFP) started distributing food aid to those who had been evacuated, but efforts have been hampered by poor access to roads.

map

The 285,000 villagers living along the valley of the Zambesi River face homelessness, with at least 80,000 people already evacuated from the four central provinces: Tete, Zambezia, Manica and Sofala.

More than 100 people have died in the floods across southern Africa, from Angola in the west, across to Mozambique on the eastern coast.

Seven hundred people were killed when torrential rains struck Mozambique six years ago, in the worst floods to hit the region in 50 years.

Officials have said these floods would be more severe than in 2001, but this time they were better prepared.

Meanwhile, rescue workers fear the situation will worsen as Mozambique's main hydro-electric dam, Cahora Bassa, threatens to overflow.

The rainy season is currently at its peak and is not due to finish until March.


SEE ALSO
Country profile: Mozambique
28 Apr 05 |  Country profiles

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