More than 1,500 evacuated in southeast Africa floods

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 19, 2012 4:23 AM

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Flooding in southeast Africa this week forced more than 1,500 people to evacuate homes in Mozambique and led to an airlift of about 20 foreign tourists at South Africa's flagship Kruger National Park, officials said Thursday.

Torrential rains swelled rivers, destroyed homes and sparked the evacuations in Mozambique's Maputo and Gaza provinces, weather officials said.

Forecasts indicate more storms could be heading to the region, threatening farms and coal mines in Mozambique.

Gates at Kruger have been closed to tourists after floods ripped up roads at the park that borders Mozambique.

The tourists evacuated from Kruger included Americans and Canadians. They were plucked by helicopter to safety after a washed-out bridge left them isolated in the massive park.

"There wasn't any other way to get out of the park," said Canadian Linda Freeman.

(Reporting by Lisa Laventure in Johannesburg and Willam Mapote in Maputo; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; editing by David Dolan)