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Rains wreak havoc in Southern Africa

Heavy rains in parts of Southern Africa have left more than 1 000 people homeless, caused structural damage, and played a part in spreading cholera .

In Zambia more than 1 000 cases of cholera have been reported since August with at least six deaths amid an escalation in the number of infections in recent days.

Sprawling urban areas, like the capital Lusaka — where about 210 new cases a week were being recorded — were listed as the worst hit, with poor water and sanitation blamed for the outbreak.

The rains also damaged the country’s main hydroelectric power station at Kafue Gorge in late December, causing a power outage for several hours in most parts of the country and triggering fears of a total blackout.

The country has been forced to import power from neighbouring Zimbabwe and South Africa.

In Malawi as many as 1 000 people have been reported displaced in the wake of flooding in recent days when several rivers around the country burst their banks.

The Ruo River along the country’s border with Mozambique flooded at least six nearby villages, sending inhabitants fleeing to higher ground.

Malawi’s floods also swept away livestock and crops, according to the Blantyre-based Daily Times newspaper.

In neighbouring Mozambique, hundreds lost their homes in heavy thunderstorms while several people were reported injured as a result of harsh weather conditions on New Year’s Eve.

Rains and strong winds caused severe structural damage and also fuelled fear of a cholera outbreak in the worst affected districts — including the central Sofala Province and Beira along the coast.

Zimbabwe on Tuesday reported seven deaths from cholera and 114 new cases amid a sharp rise in infections over the last two days in its central Chikomba and Chivhu districts.

Zimbabwe Health Minister David Parirenyatwa warned people avoid travelling to or from the affected areas and to practice high levels of hygiene.

South of the border in South Africa’s Limpopo Province the number of cases of malaria has risen to 58 — 22 of which were regarded as critical — health officials said on Tuesday.

High rainfall throughout December and an increase in the number of people in the province had contributed to the number of cases, according to national Health Department spokesperson Phuti Seloba. He said that the situation was under control.

Traffic authorities meanwhile said heavy thundershowers causing poor visibility had brought about a general increase in accidents on South Africa’s roads where more than 1 000 people have died since December 1.

Traffic officials on Tuesday warned motorists returning from their summer holidays to drive with care in wet conditions as the country’s weather bureau predicted further downpours for the remainder of the week.

The heavy rains and flooding comes as most of Southern Africa battles chronic food shortages caused by severe drought in recent years. Zambia and Malawi declared the food crises national disasters in 2005. – Sapa-DPA

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Benita Van Eyssen
Benita Van Eyssen
Benita Van Eyssen works from Germany. foreign correspondent/editor/native of nowhere Benita Van Eyssen has over 53 followers on Twitter.

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