Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mozambique floods

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Flood waters from the rising Zambezi River, caused by several weeks of heavy rain, have forced over 60,000 Mozambicans to evacuate their homes in recent days:

Rescue officials say another 100,000 people are still at risk.

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Heavy rainfall across neighbouring Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi has poured into the reservoir of Mozambique's main hydro-electric dam, the Cahora Bassa, filling it to capacity.

Water has already been released, but officials say more flood gates must be opened to prevent the dam wall from bursting.

The situation is worst in the country's central region where the Zambezi River and its tributaries -- the Shire and Revubue -- have become swollen with surging waters.

Officials said 46,000 homes have been destroyed. Roads and bridges have been washed away, thousands of hectares of crops have been flooded and there are reports at least 29 people have been killed.

The flooding seems to be worse than in 2001, although about 700 people were killed then. The country was better prepared this time, but there is still an enormous humanitarian crisis.

Here are a few photos of the devastation. The second is a shot of the town of Mutarara, barely above water.

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