Johannesburg, Jan 23 (Agencies): The death toll from torrential rain in South Africa has risen to 70, with another 8,000 people displaced, an official said on Saturday, as the government stepped up its emergency efforts.

"The number of fatalities currently recorded nationally have sadly increased to 70...The number of displaced and affected households reported at 8400," cooperative governance spokesman Vuyelwa Qinga said in a statement.

She added that, after consultations with various experts, the government had decided to establish national disaster joint operations to "improve coordination of government interventions and streamline communication in relation to the disasters."

Displaced families are currently living in community halls or tents and are receiving food parcels.
Co-operative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka said the flood damage was estimated at 356 million rands (USD51 million) so far with reports from some provinces yet to come in.

In Mozambique 10 people have died as a result of floods, with more than 10,000 others evacuated from their homes.

Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe have also been affected by the heavy rains. Though there have been no reports yet of major incidents in those countries, people in low-lying areas have been warned to leave their homes.