Cholera kills 19 in flood-ravaged Mozambique

Local women wade through floodwater on the outskirts of Chokwe, near the Limpopo river, Mozambique, on January 26, 2011 (AFP Photo/Johannes Myburgh)

Maputo (AFP) - A cholera epidemic has killed 19 people in northern Mozambique following flooding that devastated the region, the government said Wednesday.

"We have counted 1,702 cases and 19 deaths in the Nampula, Niassa and Tete provinces," Lorna Gurjal, head of the health ministry's epidemiology department told AFP.

Mozambique regularly suffers outbreaks of cholera and diarrhoea during its summer rainy season, but some drier areas are reportedly now also been hit.

In January, a state of emergency was declared after heavy rains ravaged northern and central parts of the southern African country, causing rivers to burst their banks and wrecking infrastructure.

According to the latest government figures released Tuesday, 158 people died during the flooding and an estimated 160,000 more have been adversely affected by it.

The cholera outbreak will push that tally higher.

Meanwhile, 654 schools were destroyed by the flooding, and authorities estimate $1.5 million will be needed to rebuild classrooms in the hardest-hit Zambezia province alone.

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Mozambique's deadliest floods were in 2000, when an estimated 800 people were killed.