Mozambican and South African military helicopters and boats
have rescued 12,000 families from floods in central
Mozambique that have killed 12 people and inundated villages,
towns and huge swathes of farmland, officials say.
The war-scarred southern African nation's central provinces
have had up to 500 mm of rain in 12 days, more than the
combined average for January, February and March, according
to its Meteorological Institute.
The downpour, combined with floodwater surging down the
Limpopo river from neighbouring South Africa and Zimbabwe,
has left Chokwe, a town of 70,000 people 140 km (90 miles)
north of Maputo, completely submerged.
The government issued an alert on Tuesday telling all
residents to evacuate within 48 hours although it is unclear
how many heeded the warning.
Television footage showed families climbing onto roofs and up
trees to escape the rising floods in the region, which was
also hit by massive floods in 2000.
Government shelters have taken in 12,000 families and the
United Nations has so far supplied 700 tonnes of food.
"The rain has fallen in an extremely short period of time,"
Sergio Bugue of the National Meteorological Institute told
Reuters. "It is getting better but we are continuing to
monitor fronts and possible cyclones."
The flooding has also killed at least 12 people in South
Africa and allowed 15,000 crocodiles to escape into the
Limpopo when dams protecting a reptile farm on the banks of
the river overflowed.