March 15, 2010 / 5:05 PM / 10 years ago

Floods kill 20 in Angola, Zambia

People are evacuated by a boat at a transit centre along the Zambezi River in Chirembwe, Tete province, in this photograph released by UNICEF on January 21, 2008. REUTERS/Thierry Delvigne-Jean/UNICEF/Handout

LUANDA (Reuters) - At least 20 people were killed by floods in Angola and neighbouring Zambia, officials said on Monday.

Twelve people were killed after heavy rain caused flooding, landslides and house collapses in Angola’s capital, Luanda, the city’s vice-governor said.

Torrential downpours also hit Zambia, where eight people died and hundreds more were displaced as floods swept away roads, bridges and government buildings, disaster officials said.

The rain, which began early on Monday, left dozens of Angolans homeless after floods washed away their huts in a city that is home to more than one-third of the country’s 16.5 million people.

“Most of the victims died after their homes collapsed from the heavy rain. They were living in illegal makeshift huts around the city centre,” vice-governor Bento Soito told Reuters.

Zambia’s army was called up for relief operations, while officials in charge of the massive Kariba dam on the border with Zimbabwe were forced to open flood gates, increasing the chances of more downstream flooding on the Zambezi river in Mozambique.

Mozambique is already on flood red alert — one level below declaring a disaster.

Last year, heavy rains in Malawi and Zambia caused flooding in Mozambique that killed 45 people and left 285,000 homeless.

Thousands of people also lose their homes in Angola every year due to flooding caused by seasonal rains.

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