MAPUTO - Mozambican and South African military helicopters and boats have rescued 12,000 families from floods in central Mozambique that have killed 12 people and inundated villages, towns and huge swathes of farmland, officials said on Friday.

The war-scarred southern African nation's central provinces have had up to 500 mm of rain in 12 days, more than the combined average for January, February and March, according to its Meteorological Institute.

The downpour, combined with floodwater surging down the Limpopo river from neighboring South Africa and Zimbabwe, has left Chokwe, a town of 70,000 people 140 km (90 miles) north of Maputo, completely submerged.

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