Maputo - Eighteen children who went missing when floods surged across parts of Mozambique have been rescued from a tiny island of dry land where they survived on fruit for several days, local authorities said.
"The children were found safe and sound yesterday by a government helicopter," Mocuba district administrator Teresa Mauaio told AFP by telephone on Friday.
Aged around 15, the children were taking part in a traditional coming-of-age ritual when they were surprised by rising waters, she said.
"The ritual can take up to thirty days, so even when they became isolated, the children carried on as if nothing had happened," said Mauaio, adding that they ate mangoes and other fruit.
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Four people have died in Mocuba, one of two districts in the southern African nation badly affected by the flooding, while about 5 000 have sought assistance in government shelters, she said.
The Licungo River, which runs through the middle of Mozambique into the Indian Ocean, rose 12m on Monday after heavy weekend rains, local media reported.
Some reports put the death toll at around 24, but this has not been officially confirmed.
The country's weather service expects heavy rain in southern Mozambique until early on Saturday, as pressure eases in the central and northern areas.
In neighbouring Malawi, which was also hit by torrential rains and flooding, at least 48 people have died and 100 000 are homeless.