Morocco flash floods toll now 17 with many missing

Morocco flash floods toll now 17 with many missing

RABAT - At least 17 people died and 18 are still missing after southern Morocco was lashed by heavy storms, the authorities said on Monday.

The violent weather caused flooding in much of the south at the foot of the Anti-Atlas Mountains, and a weather alert remained in effect until Monday noon.

According to the latest official toll, 17 people were killed, including 13 in the Guelmim region alone, 200 kilometres (125 miles) south of Agadir.

Six people, including a girl of nine, were swept away by the raging waters of the Tamsourt River.

The whereabouts of another 18 people are unknown -- 15 of them in the same province on the edge of the Sahara desert.

On Sunday, the MAP news agency quoted the interior ministry as saying some 130 all-terrain rescue vehicles and 335 Zodiac inflatables and other boats were being used to search for the missing.

Rescue operations saved "200 people in danger, among them 40 helped by army and royal guard helicopters", an interior ministry statement said.

Around 100 mud-brick homes were partly or totally destroyed in the south, and 100 roads cut off, including six national highways, the authorities said on Sunday.

According to the 2M television channel, 250 millimetres of rain fell in just a few hours on some areas.

Flash floods are common in Morocco, where four children drowned in the south near Ouarzazate in September when they were swept away.

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