Death toll in Mozambique floods rises to 159

Houses in the town of Chokwe some 210 km north of Maputo, Mozambique, on March 16, 2000, after heavy flooding (AFP Photo/Odd Andersen)

Maputo (AFP) - Floods that have ravaged northern and central parts of Mozambique have killed 159 people and affected nearly 160,000, a new report showed Monday amid fears that fresh rains could wreak more havoc in the coming days.

"There are now 158,000 victims," National Institute of Disaster Management spokeswoman Rita Almeida told AFP.

Zambezia province in the centre of the country was worst affected with 134 killed and 125,000 affected since mid-January.

Heavy rains again pounded the southern African country this weekend, raising fears of further flooding.

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

With 80 percent of Mozambique's population dependent on agriculture -- which represents 25 percent of Gross Domestic Product -- the impact of the floods on the economy will likely be significant.

South Africa's Standard Bank has already revised Mozambique's growth forecast for this year to 6.5 percent from 7.5 percent.