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MOZAMBIQUE FLOODS
Dealing with disaster
Mozambique Floods

Date: February/March 2000
Dead: 700
Affected: 2 million

What happened: A wall of water roared down the Limpopo valley on 27 February, sweeping away hundreds of villages. The country was already severely flooded following three weeks of heavy rains, the worst in living memory.

Response: South Africa immediately sent five helicopters to pluck victims from the deluge, but help did not arrive from Europe and the US until more than a week later – a month after the flooding began.

Verdict: Lack of planning by governments and agencies was widely blamed for the late response. In Britain, there were delays as government departments rowed about the cost of sending helicopters and searched abroad for a transporter large enough to carry them.

Media coverage: Pictures of people stranded in treetops were beamed around the world. The subsequent response, $107m pledged by 9 March, was far greater than for similar large scale floods in India’s Orissa state or Venezuela.