The Herald (Harare)

19 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Floods, Lightning Claim 124 Lives

Photo: Aliyu Adekunle S/Vanguard
File photo: The rains have caused widespread damage to roads leaving some areas impassable.

Eighty-six people have drowned while 38 others were struck by lightning across the country since the beginning of the rainy season. The heavy rains have also destroyed 180 houses in Tsholotsho, leaving most of the families homeless. In Beitbridge district, the rains have caused widespread damage to roads leaving some areas impassable.

The Civil Protection Unit yesterday said major rivers in Gokwe such as Ume, Sesame and Sengwa were in flood. Several people were reportedly marooned on some of them.

It urged people in the areas to desist from water-related activities along the rivers.

"Gwayi River and its tributaries in Tsholotsho are in flood. The Tamuhla community is likely to be marooned if the rains continue. We advise them to monitor the river flow," the department said.

"Several homesteads in Tsholotsho (180 to date) have succumbed to excessive moisture and have collapsed and some families have been left homeless as a result. It is advised that communities monitor their houses to prevent injury and loss of life from collapsing structures."

According to police, most of the victims drowned after attempting to cross flooded rivers. Others have had vehicles they were travelling in swept away in flooded rivers and bridges.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Andrew Phiri said the incidents were recorded between September 1 and Wednesday.

He said Manicaland and Masvingo provinces recorded the highest number of casualties through drowning with 18 and 13 respectively. "Bulawayo had the lowest number with one person having drowned," he said.

He said Masvingo had the highest numbers of 12 people struck by lightning followed by Midlands with 11. No such cases were recorded in the other provinces.

Supt Phiri discouraged the public from crossing or encouraging drivers to cross flooded rivers and bridges.

He said motorists in cities should drive cautiously since most of the pot holes would be filled with water and this might cause accidents.

Four more people, including the driver, drowned when a Mercedes Benz they were travelling in was swept away at a flooded river bridge in Chiredzi on Wednesday.

This brought the total number to 14 people who drowned when their vehicles were swept away at flooded rivers and bridges in separate incidents this month. The incident occurred at around 8pm.

There were several cars queuing at the flooded river but the driver of the Mercedes Benz overtook before plunging into the bridge.

Ten people had drowned when vehicles they were travelling in were swept away by flooded rivers and bridges in separate incidents by last week.

In Beitbridge, roads including those linking Tshikwalakwala, Chabili, Masera, Shashe and Swereki with Beitbridge town were destroyed by the heavy rains. This emerged during a tour by the Beitbridge Civil Protection Unit to assess the flood situation in low-lying areas around the district.

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InFocus

Heavy Rains Leave Scores Dead in Zimbabwe

File photo: The rains have caused widespread damage to roads leaving some areas impassable.

At least 124 people have been killed while hundreds of houses were destroyed across the country since the beginning of the rainy season. Read more »