Zambia and Namibia face their worst floods in at least 40 years as rains swell the Zambezi River to record levels, destroying crops and swamping whole villages, disaster officials and aid workers said on Wednesday.

Zambia has put its air force on standby to airlift people to safety and Namibia has declared a state of emergency in flood-hit areas as waterways burst their banks in the narrow Caprivi Strip between Zambia and Botswana.

Some 400,000 people have been affected on both sides of Namibia’s border with Angola alone, the international Red Cross movement said, adding that the number was likely to rise.

“We’ve heard some incredible stories,” Matthew Cochrane, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said by telephone from the town of Katima Mulilo in the Caprivi Strip.

“Communities totally cut off by rising water, and quickly. Crocodile attacks, hippo attacks, snake bites. These are some of the risks people face. Then there’s the more mundane risks: malarial and diarrhoeal diseases, and just the lack of food.”

In some villages, 70 to 80 percent of food stocks had been wiped out, Cochrane said.



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