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Thousands of Zimbabweans die of cholera

HARARE, Zimbabwe, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- More than 3,000 people have died of cholera during the current outbreak in Zimbabwe, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

CNN reported the organization says 3,028 people in the African nation have died of the water-borne disease. In all, 57,702 people have been infected since the outbreak began last year.

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The intestinal disease is caused by bacteria in contaminated water. CNN reported that Zimbabwe's epidemic has been made worse by, among other factors, erratic water supplies, shortages of water purification chemicals, and broken water and sewer pipes.

In December, President Robert Mugabe declared the cholera epidemic a national emergency, paving the way for aid from international groups such as the United Nations and Doctors Without Borders.

Still, aid groups say their efforts are hampered.

"The problem in Zimbabwe is that the infrastructure is obsolete, especially when it comes to water sanitation. People are going for months without tap water in towns," said Peter Hinn, the director of a German aid group working in the African nation.

"In rural areas, 60 to 70 percent of boreholes (wells) are not working. So the international community might have come in but they have to address this infrastructure."

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