Harare – Floods in Zimbabwe have killed at least 246 people and left nearly 2 000 homeless since December, according to the government.

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The southern African country has appealed to international donors for $100m to help those affected by the floods, which have washed away some bridges and roads and cut off some communities from surrounding areas.

Saviour Kasukuwere, Zimbabwe’s minister of local government, announced the death toll on Thursday. He says 128 people were injured in the floods, which were caused by heavy rains.

President Robert Mugabe, currently in Singapore for a medical checkup, declared the floods to be a national disaster this week.

The floods have mainly affected southern Zimbabwe, where the air force has transported some marooned villagers to safety. Dams have also overflowed, raising concerns about communities living downstream.

Five bridges on major highways have been swept away nationwide, Transport Minister Joram Gumbo said.

“Our roads have deteriorated to the extent that some sections of the national road network have become impassable,” Zimbabwe’s Daily News newspaper quoted Gumbo as saying.

Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government is already struggling to meet routine commitments such as the payment of state workers’ salaries.

Also, thousands of nurses in state hospitals in Zimbabwe went on strike this week over a lack of bonus payments, straining an already dire situation at the poorly resourced hospitals. State hospital doctors have been on strike since Feb. 15, forcing the government to send in army and police doctors to care for patients.

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