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Flood Hit Mozambique Braces For Rise In Cholera Deaths

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by Staff Writers
Lisbon (AFP) Feb 06, 2006
Flood-stricken Mozambique is bracing for a nationwide outbreak of cholera, which has already claimed two lives in the central Sofala region, the nation's ambassador to Portugal said Monday.

"We expect that at any moment cholera will spread to the entire country, especially the areas worst-affected by the heavy rains," ambassador Miguel Mkaima told a Lisbon news conference.

The flooding has contaminated drinking water across the country which people are forced to drink due to a lack of alternatives, he said.

Cholera is highly infectious and is mostly caused by consumption of contaminated food and water in poor sanitary conditions. It leads to severe diarrhoea, dehydration and sometimes death.

At least 21 people have died since December as a result of heavy rains which have swept the entire former Portuguese colony, where tens of thousands of families have been affected by the rising water.

The rainy season in Mozambique, located in southeastern Africa, begins in December and usually lasts until March.

The heavy rains began earlier this year and have affected the entire nation instead of being limited to the north of the country, Mkaima said.

Some 20,000 people need to be rehoused in central Mozambique alone as a result of the flooding or threat of rising waters, he added.

"There is no emergency situation in Mozambique but there is a situation which we can't say is normal," Mkaima said.

He was speaking a news conference called to announce a fundraising drive launched in Portugal and six other Portuguese-speaking nations to raise money to help Mozambique deal with the combined effects of the recent flooding and long-term drought.

Last month Mozambique officials asked international donors for some 20 million dollars (16.6 million euros) to help it provide disaster relief in the country, which currently only has 150 boats and 1,000 tents to provide emergency aid.

The heavy rains come in the wake of a lengthy drought that has left nearly one million people in need of food aid.

In early 2000, about 1,000 people lost their lives in floods that caused widespread devastation in Mozambique, which is also struggling to rebuild after a 16-year war that ended in 1992.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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