Maputo — So far this year at least six people have died in severe storms in Mozambique and 572 have been displaced from their homes, according to Rita Almeida, spokesperson for the government’s Disaster Management Technical Council (CTGC), cited in Tuesday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”.
The six confirmed deaths were all reported from the northern city of Nampula. Some of the victims were drowned and others were electrocuted, when cables were blown down by strong winds.
The mayor of Nampula, Castro Namuaca, explained that some Nampula neighbourhoods, such as Namutequeliua and Muatala are crossed by rivers, which people walk across without any difficulty in the dry season. But they become raging torrents during the rains.
“Some people were not sufficiently cautious, and were swept away by the waters”, said Namuaca.
Almeida said that two other deaths have been reported, but government bodies have not yet confirmed these.
She said 447 people have been displaced in Panda, and 45 in Homoine, both districts in the southern province of Inhambane, plus 80 in Milange, in the central province of Zambezia.
These CTGC figures do not take account of the destruction of houses in Nampula. According to the municipal authorities, over 1000 houses built of flimsy materials, state buildings and electricity transformers were damaged or destroyed. The City Council is using sheets of tarpaulin to improvise shelter for those who have lost their homes.
The damage to the electricity supply occurred mostly in parts of the city that are plagued with illegal, clandestine connections to the grid, particularly the neighbourhood of Namicopo. According to the electricity company, EDM, it will take 150,000 US dollars in install a reliable electricity network in Namicopo.
The CTGC declared an “orange alert” across the country on Friday, and is preparing for possible flooding in the main river basins. The National Water Board (DNA) has warned of significant rises in the levels of the Zambezi and Buzi rivers in the centre of the country, the Messalo in the north and the Inhanombe in the south.
The Buzi reached flood alert level at Goonda, in Sofala province, on Sunday night, and the flood surge is now travelling downstream towards Buzi town.
The Zambezi is above flood alert level at Caia and Marromeu, on its lower stretches.
The DNA also warned that one of the major rivers in the south of the country, the Save may reach flood alert level at Massangena, in Gaza province, on Tuesday or Wednesday. It is recommending that people take precautions, such as moving equipment and property away from river banks, and avoiding crossing rivers.
The displacement of people in Inhambane was caused by a sharp rise in the levels of the Inhanombe. The river has submerged bridges on roads from Homoine town, cutting it off from the rest of the province.
The heavy rains have made many roads impassable, notably in Sofala, Inhambane and Gaza provinces. Large areas of cultivated land, along the Buzi, Inhanombe and Luenha rivers are now under water.