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Storm Dineo lashes Mozambique, raises flood risk

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MAPUTO (Reuters) – Tropical storm Dineo lashed Mozambique on Thursday, raising the risk of flooding and crop damage in an impoverished southern African nation susceptible to such disasters.

“The system will pose a great risk for the next 36 to 48 hours, particularly in terms of further exceptionally heavy rainfall and resultant flooding,” the South African Weather Service said in a statement.

One of the world’s poorest countries that is in the throes of a financial crisis, Mozambique is prone to flooding. It is especially vulnerable after a major drought last year as soils degraded or hardened by dry spells do not easily absorb water.

As it moves over land, the system will weaken, but it can still bring heavy rainfall. The South African Weather Service said the low-lying, flat terrain of southern Mozambique, which is where the coastal capital Maputo is found, was especially at risk.

Damage could be inflicted on Mozambique’s multi-million dollar macadamia nut industry and subsistence maize farmers recovering from last year’s El Nino-triggered drought are also at risk.

In South Africa, where heavy rains from the system were expected in the eastern parts of the country on Thursday, the Kruger National Park said in a statement it was closing off some areas to tourists as a safety precaution.

Floods in 2000 and 2001 killed hundreds in Mozambique and two cyclones in January 2012 killed 26 people and displaced more than 125,000, according to official data.

(Writing by Ed Stoddard; Editing by James Macharia and John Stonestreet)

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