Floods in southern Africa claim over 50 lives

Last Updated: Tue, Jan 18, 2011 11:50 hrs

Johannesburg, Jan 18 (DPA) Over 50 people have died in floods in South Africa and neighbouring Mozambique, South Africa's Minister for Cooperative Governance Sicelo Shiceko said Tuesday.

More than 6,000 people have fled their homes, and a state of emergency has been declared in several communities in seven of South Africa's nine provinces.

Among the dead is a fireman who drowned in a whirlpool while he was searching for missing people in a flooding river. Local broadcaster E-News reported that seven people were still missing.

Meteorologists said more rainfall was expected over the next few days, which could cause already high river levels to rise dangerously. South Africa's army has been put on high alert.

In Mozambique, 13 people have died in floods while some 13,000 have fled, state radio reported.

Authorities fear that continued rain could affect hundreds of thousands. Food supplies are also threatened in certain southern and central areas, while flooded roads are isolating thousands.

Eleven years ago almost 700 Mozambicans died in floods.

Mozambican authorities on Monday issued a red alert for residents in the Limpopo River Basin, urging them to leave their homes for higher ground due to a flood risk following heavy rains.