London — Severe flooding in southern Mozambique has affected a quarter of a million people, while heavy rains are pounding the north of the country and a tropical cyclone threatens the island of Madagascar, the United Nations said on Wednesday.
Floods that started around 10 days ago have killed at least 48 people in the south of Mozambique, and 146,000 people are still being housed in temporary shelters in the Limpopo Basin, the United Nations said in an update. Government officials put the death toll at 80.
The rains in this area have stopped for the time being, and the floodwaters are slowly subsiding.
"Still, many have lost everything in the floods and will thus require continued humanitarian assistance," the U.N. report said. Reaching some areas is still a problem, with many roads and bridges washed away, it added.
Meanwhile, there is a high risk of further flooding along southern Africa's east coast, particularly in northern Mozambique and Madagascar, it warned. A low pressure system in the Mozambique Channel is bringing heavy rains that have damaged houses and affected around 500 people in north Mozambique.
"Mozambique, in dealing with the floods in the south, is already stretched to capacity, therefore additional flooding in the north could have serious humanitarian implications," the U.N. bulletin said.
To make matters worse, Tropical Cyclone Felleng is moving parallel to the east coast of Madagascar and is forecast to bring heavy rains to that part of the island over the coming three to four days. Flooding is expected, according to the U.N. report.
City and government authorities are working with the Red Cross to prepare for temporary evacuations in Madagascar's capital, Antananarivo, and other parts of the country, it added.
$15 MILLION NEEDED
In Mozambique, U.N. agencies have been delivering clean water, food, shelter, soap, bed nets and other relief supplies to flooded areas of the south, working with the government.
At the weekend, they said a minimum of $15 million would be needed to pay for the humanitarian operation but the figure would likely increase as the situation evolves.
"In consultation with the government of Mozambique, we will be appealing to our donors to make additional funds available immediately to help deal with this emergency," Jennifer Topping, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Mozambique, said in a statement.
Sanitation is a major concern in the worst-hit areas, where there is a need for water purification equipment and materials to build toilets. More food, tents, antibiotics, oral rehydration salts and mosquito nets are also required, the United Nations said.
The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) - which has been handing out high-energy biscuits, maize and beans - said on Tuesday that tens of thousands of people had taken refuge on higher ground, and many were living out in the open. Some families had rescued cattle and furniture from the floods, but others had left their homes with nothing, the agency said on its website.
Helena Ozias told the WFP she had known floods were on their way, but hadn't realised they would arrive so quickly.
"One evening, we heard our neighbours screaming that the water levels were rising. In the middle of the confusion, I only had time to pick up my three children and run away. I left everything behind and my house is now under water," she said.
Other parts of southern Africa have also been affected by flooding this month, including Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana and the Seychelles. River levels are high across the region, the U.N. report noted.