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Wednesday, 1 March, 2000, 14:40 GMT
When home is a road bridge
Woman in floodwater
Thousands have nowhere to go
Correspondent Cathy Jenkins meets people stranded by flooding north of the Mozambican capital, Maputo.

Paolo Bila points to a circle of trees in the fast-flowing water.

The trees mark the spot where his house was. Apart from one or two triangular rooftops there is nothing to be seen of the village where he lived.

Everyone from the village has taken refuge on a bridge which is nothing more than a narrow island of tarmac in the middle of a brown ocean.

Cow swims
Livestock has been lost in the floods
The people's few cattle and goats are gathered on two tiny spits of land at either end.

Mr Bila and his neighbours say they have been here for eight days and have had no outside assistance.

But they are making do. Some women grind corn, others cook on small stoves over makeshift fires, their babies tied to their backs.

New arrivals

Normally the length of the bridge would denote the width of the Limpopo river, but now to the left and right instead of a road there is nothing. It is impossible to guess where the river should run.

Occasionally a boat arrives bringing more people: a woman who has salvaged a bed frame, a man with a rush mat.

Flying over the area we see a group of five people struggling through waist high water. In a narrow channel a man tries to keep a suitcase dry above his head.

A boy waves a cloth tied to the end of a stick to attract attention.

His stranded family shelter in the shell of a roofless house.

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