Maputo — The known death toll in the current rainy season now stands at 12, according to Mozambique’s relief agency, the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC).
Speaking at a Maputo press conference on Wednesday, the spokesperson for the INGC’s Technical Council, Rita Almeida, said that six of these deaths resulted from the torrential rains that have fallen over several parts of the country since Friday.
Four of the victims died in Maputo city, she said (although the Maputo Municipal Council puts the figure at five). The other two fatalities were in Macossa and Milange districts, in Manica and Zambezia districts respectively.
Almeida put the number of people displaced by the rains at 14,364 – 11,580 in Manica province, 1,914 in Zambezia, 775 in Inhambane and 45 in Sofala.
But these figures take no account of the deluge that struck Maputo city and province on Tuesday. Almeida admitted that, although only a relatively small number of people in Maputo were displaced by the storm, the material damage was very substantial.
380 houses in the city were destroyed – and most of these were brick houses, not homes built of reeds or other flimsy materials. The families who used to live in these houses have been displaced and 223 of them are living in provisional accommodation centres opened by Maputo Municipal Council in the neighbourhoods of Hulene, Magoanine, Xipamanine and Inhagoia.
There was also huge damage to the Maputo road network, to water pipes, and to electricity installations.
Despite this destruction, Almeida said that the situation is under control, because it is still within the parameters of the contingency plan drawn up by the government for the 2012/2013 rainy and cyclone season. Currently, the government and its partners can meet the needs arising from the storms – but Almeida admitted that the government may have to request more assistance, if the situation deteriorates.
“The rain will continue”, she warned, “and we will have to pay greater attention to the Lower Zambezi, particularly in Mutarara, Caia and Marromeu districts, and to Govuro district, in the Save basin, in Inhambane”.
The Zambezi is already above flood alert level at Caia and Marromeu, and a flood surge down the Save is feared.
For any rescue or relief missions required, said Almeida, the INGC has two boats available in Maputo province, three stationed at Nhamatanda, on the Pungue river in Sofala, and three at Chinde, at the mouth of the Zambezi.
Additional search and rescue material should be sent to the teams at Govuro, she added.
Almeida urged all citizens to pay attention to flood warnings announced in the media, and to remove all their property from flood-prone areas.
Fearing the outbreak of diarrhoeal diseases, the INGC has begun the distribution of water purifiers, particularly in Maputo, where contamination of drinking water by sewage might occur.
The weather improved in Maputo on Wednesday and Thursday, but the National Meteorology Institute (INAM) warns that more rain is forecast for the weekend.