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Southern Africa Remains on Floodwatch


Parts of Southern Africa remain on flood watch after more than a week of torrential rain in Mozambique, Malawi and South Africa. Government officials and emergency organizations in all three countries are on high alert with heavy rain forecast for the next five days.

Already 22 people have been confirmed dead in Mozambique and thousands more have been forced to flee rising flood waters.

The heavy rain has also cut off more than 800,000 people in the Sofala and Gaza regions. Both regions are currently receiving food aid after drought decimated last year's crops.

The Mozambican government has put the country on cyclone alert, but says the situation is currently under control.

Water levels in Mozambique's major rivers have not yet reached the critical seven meter mark which was last reached in 2000, when more than 500,000 people were made homeless and 700 killed.

In Malawi the heavy rain has caused major problems for United Nations staff delivering food aid in the south of the country and more than 1,000 people have been displaced by the rising water levels.

The rain and strong winds have also wiped out much of this season's crops in Malawi which were seen as essential to stabilizing the country's food supply.

In November last year the United Nations and Malawian Government estimated that more than five million people would require food aid through to March this year.

In South Africa the flooding situation is less critical, however residents of Standerton in the Mpumulanga Province are on high alert as the Vaal River continues to rise. Already 30 families have been evacuated. The town is built on a centuries old flood plain.

Around Johannesburg a number of shanties in the Alexandra and Soweto townships have been washed away in flash flooding.

Despite the extensive damage, the South African Weather service says this rainfall is not unusual. Senior forecaster Siyabonga Mthethwa says the heavy rains were expected.

"It's the season where normally the tropical cyclones are developing over the Mozambique especially and then they move over the entire southern region," said Siyabonga Mthethwa. "We are expecting more of these tropical systems during the summer season. For Mozambique it is quite a busy time for them in terms of rain and the flooding during the summer months."

Mthethwa says this current spell of heavy rain across the region should begin to ease on Monday.

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