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Mozambique Floods Death Toll Rises to 69 as More Funds Needed

The death toll from floods in three of Mozambique’s southern provinces has risen to 69 as the country forecasts it will need more than triple the amount budgeted to help feed and relocate those affected.

About 112,000 people have been displaced, with 107,000 being in the districts of Guija and Chokwe in Gaza province, Rita Almeida, the National Disaster Management Institute’s spokeswoman, told reporters today in the capital, Maputo. Thirty-nine people died in floods in the province, she said. Other provinces hit by the deluge are Inhambane and Maputo.

“We are working under a contingency budget of 120 million meticais ($4 million) for emergency operations,” Almeida said. “We see that we need additional funds and initial consultations with our partners show that we need something like $15 million.”

Mozambique’s position on the East African coast and its large stretches of low-lying areas have made it prone to weather-related natural disasters. Flooding in 2000 claimed the lives of 800 people and displaced millions of others.

A cyclone may affect the country from this weekend until the middle of February, Sergio Buque, a meteorologist at the National Institute for Meteorology, told reporters.

The government may need to airlift food from South Africa to the Pafuri and Chigubo regions in Gaza province, as roads are impassable, Almeida said.

Flooding caused damage to one of two transmission lines from Mozambique’s Cahora Bassa hydroelectric plant to South Africa’s power grid, cutting power received by half to 650 megawatts, Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., the power utility in the continent’s biggest economy, said on Jan. 24.

The main national road linking the south, where Maputo is located, to the north reopened today after floods at Xai-Xai, the capital of Gaza province and about 200 kilometers (320 miles) from Maputo, made the freeway unusable, Almeida said.

Mozambique is the site of the world’s largest discovery of natural gas in the past decade. Vale SA, the world’s biggest iron-ore producer, is building a railway line to transport coal from a mine in Mozambique’s Tete province through Malawi to the port of Nacala.

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