Floods kill six in central Mozambique
By Charles Mangwiro
MAPUTO (Reuters) - Floods in central Mozambique have killed six people, driven thousands from their homes and forced others to seek refuge in trees and on rooftops, a senior official said on Sunday.
The head of Mozambique's national relief agency INGC, Paulo Zucula, said the flooding caused by torrential rains had cut major transport links to neighboring countries.
"So far six people drowned and 5,000 others have been evacuated from rooftops and trees and a potential 60,000 could be driven away from their homes in the next few days, three towns ... are under water," he told Reuters in an interview.
"The government met two days ago and declared the red alert."
The flooding had started on Wednesday, he said. Waters had reached a depth of six meters (18 feet) and were not expected to subside any time soon.
Main roads to Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia have been cut in five places. Trucks carrying goods destined for the landlocked countries have formed long queues.
Zucula said flooding was posing dangers to some people who refuse to leave affected areas.
The Pungue and Zambezi rivers are still rising, driven by heavy rains from Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Floods in central Mozambique killed 45 people and left 285,000 homeless in early 2007, while cyclone Favio displaced another 140,000 people.
It was the worst flooding to hit the former Portuguese colony since 2000-2001 floods killed 700 people and drove half a million from their homes.
International aid agencies have expressed deep concern over erratic weather patterns in southern Africa, which have devastated harvest prospects for millions of people.
"The waters are six meters high and we are only one meter away from reaching the 2000/2001 scenario, it's raining heavily now in central Mozambique and the worst is looming," said Zucula.
(Reporting by Charles Mangwiro; Editing by Giles Elgood)