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South Africa: Floods kill 120 and destroy crops

January 29, 2011 Comments off

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — South Africa is reeling from unusually heavy rainfall that has caused flooding in many parts of the country, wiping out crops in what is the continent’s main breadbasket.

More than 120 people have been killed in the thunderstorms and flooding since mid-December, and some 20,000 people are in need of assistance. The South African government has declared disaster areas in eight of its nine provinces.

And it’s not over yet. Above-average rainfall is forecast for South Africa and neighboring countries for the next few months.

Much of southern Africa is now on flood alert, including Mozambique, where at least 13 people have died from floods and thousands have fled their homes for higher ground. Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia are also on alert for flooding.

While this is the annual rainy season in southern Africa, the heavier than usual rainfall has been blamed on La Nina, the weather pattern behind the severe flooding in other southern hemisphere countries including Australia, Brazil and the Philippines.

In South Africa, the government has put the flood damage at $211 million, but this is an early estimate and expected to rise. At least Read more…