19 Jan 2011

Most of South Africa now disaster areas

2:50 pm on 19 January 2011

South Africa has declared eight of its nine provinces as disaster areas due to heavy flooding.

Forty-one people have died in the past month, 6000 have been displaced and thousands of homes have been destroyed.

Co-operative Government Minister Sicelo Shiceka said the flood damage is estimated at $US51 million.

The air force has been assisting in rescue efforts and the recovery of bodies since the weekend.

About 10 people have also died in floods in neighbouring Mozambique and more than 10,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.

The BBC reports Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe are also affected by heavy rains.

President Jacob Zuma last week formed a ministerial task force to tackle the issue, led by Mr Shiceka.

"Among other things we are looking at, is that people must not build in flood plains," Mr Shiceka told the BBC.

"People who have been displaced must not go back," he said.

Western Cape is the only province which has not yet been declared a disaster area.