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Scores killed as the floodwaters rise in South Africa

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-01-24

Floods caused by heavy rainfall in South Africa had killed more than 100 people on Monday, inundating fields in the heavily agricultural country and spurring the government to declare 33 municipalities disaster areas.

REUTERS - Flooding in South Africa has killed more than 100 people over the last month, saturating farms in the major food producer for the continent and leading the government to declare 33 municipalities disaster areas.

The government at the weekend said the death toll from the flooding had more than doubled from its previous estimate to over 100 people, with most of the fatalities coming from the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province.
 
"Without sounding alarmist, I would like to highlight the fact that we are in a race against time to respond to the humanitarian needs of those affected," Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said in a Web posting on Monday.
 
Preliminary assessments show about 424,150 hectares (1 million acres) of land have been affected but there has not been an estimate on the financial impact of the floods, the agriculture minster told lawmakers in Cape Town.
 
"We have always said that we will assist and the form of assistance will be spelt out once we have assessed the damage and once the water has subsided," said Tina Joemat-Pettersson.
 
Fields under water
 
Thousands of homes have been damaged by floods that have hit eight of nine of South Africa's provinces. Farm group Grain SA said many fields, vineyards and orchards are still under water.
 
South African logistics group Transnet said this month that heavy rains had disrupted its freight rail operations, affecting coal and maize exports.
 
Neighbouring Mozambique has also been hard hit, with more than 13,000 people seeing their homes lost or damaged due to high waters.
 
On Sunday, some 2,000 families were evacuated from the district of Chokwe and Bilene, about 160 km (100 miles) north of the capital Maputo, and rescue teams are on stand-by in case floods again sweep through the area.
 
"We are concerned about the central and southern parts of the country where the rivers are full," Mozambique water official Belarmino Chivambo told Reuters.

 

Date created : 2011-01-24

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