Record floods kill 60 in northern Namibia

Mon Apr 4, 2011 9:19am GMT

WINDHOEK (Reuters) - Record floods have hit central and northern Namibia, killing more than 60 people in the last week and causing millions of dollars of damage to roads, bridges and crops, officials said on Monday.

"Over 20,000 people have been displaced," government disaster chief Japhet Iitenge said, adding that helicopters, boats and four-wheel drive vehicles had been deployed to evacuate communities and distribute emergency relief.

"We are still awaiting reports on damages."

The sparsely populated southwest African country suffered its previous worst flooding in 2009. The World Bank estimated damage then at $620 million, nearly 10 percent of gross domestic product.

"We have improved a lot of infrastructure since then so damage to roads and bridges is less, but the losses to private property and the agricultural sector could be significant," Iitenge said.

Weather forecasters said water levels in the north, near the border with Angola, were on the rise again.

"We measured an increase of eight centimetres in the weekend, indicating another flood wave is on its way," said Guido van Langenhove, the head of Hydrology at the Department of Water.

"However, water levels in the central and southern parts of the affected area are dropping rapidly. This means if it does not rain too heavily in the next two weeks, we will not experience new record flooding."

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