First SANDF team leaves tonight for flood-stricken Mozambique

At least 34 people have died there since the flooding began and hundreds of thousands more have been affected.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been affected by flooding in Mozambique. Picture: Twitter via @akefegift.

JOHANNESBURG - As torrential rains continue to hit Mozambique, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is preparing to deploy its first team tonight to assist people in the flood-stricken country.

At least 34 people have died there since the flooding began and hundreds of thousands more have been affected.

Waters have risen to double the flooding threshold.

The SANDF says members of that team will assess the situation in order to determine exactly what help is needed.

The defence force's Xolani Mabanga says, "Members of the SANDF, accompanied by two helicopters, will be assisting in trying to rescue people in flooded areas and take them to safe areas."

He said members of the South African Navy will also assist in the operation.

"The team will consist of divers that will assist in search and rescue."

At the same time, Malawi's President Peter Mutharika has declared half the southern African country a disaster zone after torrential rains over the past few days killed at least 48 people and left around 70,000 homeless.

Some homes have been completely submerged. Livestock, crops and houses have been swept away. .

The heavy rains have also damaged crops in the country, which last year harvested a bumper 3.9 million tonnes of the staple maize crop, a surplus of almost a million tonnes.

Malawi's Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services has warned of heavy rainfall and flash floods in the country for the next two to three weeks.

"So far, it is estimated that 69,995 people have been displaced by the floods and 48 people have lost their lives. The floods have also damaged a lot of hectares of crops, washed away livestock and damaged infrastructure such as roads and bridges," Mutharika said in a statement late on Tuesday.

He also said many people remained stranded and would need to be rescued from low-lying areas prone to flooding.