Flooding in Mozambique has killed at least 36 people and displaced nearly 70,000, the UN said on Friday, as residents braced for a fresh storm surge.
“A total of 26 persons have died in [the worst affected southern province of] Gaza alone, with the nationwide death toll at 36,” the UN in Mozambique said in a statement.
The number of displaced people now stood at 67,995, while nearly 85,000 have been affected by the raging waters in recent days, the UN said, urging donors to urgently make more funds available “to help deal with this emergency” in the impoverished southeast African nation.
Meanwhile, severe flooding continued to spread across the south of the country with the Mozambique government, international agencies and neighboring South Africa scrambling to ease the humanitarian disaster.
The floods are a result of week-long torrential rains in South Africa and Zimbabwe that swelled the Limpopo River, forcing an orange alert on Jan. 12, when the toll began.
The full impact of the rains were only now being felt.
A reporter on the scene saw thousands of residents who had fled their homes stuck on roadsides leading out of devastated towns, surviving on scarce aid and in some cases forced to eat grasshoppers.
Their plight was only expected to worsen as intense rains were forecast for the weekend.
In the tourist coastal city of Xai-Xai, spared until Friday, up to 8m of water was expected to hit.
“The water is coming into the city. It is just starting. Some roads in the lower part of town are under water,” government spokesman Joao Carlos said. “The situation is not very good.”
Severe flooding in Xai-Xai would sever the main road connection between the north and south of the country.
Initial evacuations of about 30,000 people in the southern region who did not hear or ignored flood warnings were under way.
Neighboring South Africa, where the flood waters have killed at least 12 people in the past week, dispatched two military helicopters and divers on Friday to assist with the evacuations in Mozambique.
A South African Hercules C-130 military transport plane was also due to take off late on Friday with a contingent of doctors, nurses and social workers to attend to the flood victims.
In the capital, Maputo, several bridges, roads and schools were seriously damaged.