Maputo — The city of Xai-Xai, capital of the southern Mozambican province of Gaza, could face serious flooding at the weekend, warns the National Water Board (DNA).
A flood surge down the Limpopo River has already overwhelmed the towns of Chokwe and Canicado, and is now heading downstream towards Xai-Xai.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, at the Maputo headquarters of the National Emergency Operational Centre (CENOE), DNA official Rute Nhamucho said that on Friday the Limpopo will rise above flood alert level at Xai-Xai, and on Saturday the low-lying parts of the city will be inundated.
Faced with this prospect, the authorities are working to evacuate people from the areas at risk. An accommodation centre for flood victims has been assembled in Xai-Xai, and three boats are in position, ready for search and rescue missions.
At the Sicacate measuring station, which is between Chokwe and Xai-Xai, the Limpopo was measured on Thursday morning at 10.67 metres, said Nhamucho.
This is 5.67 metres above flood alert level.
The people living in villages on the lower Limpopo in Xai-Xai district are being urged to move to higher ground, to take any equipment away from the banks of the river, and to avoid any attempt to cross the Limpopo.
One piece of good news is that there is no sign of a second flood surge down the river, and so the level of the Limpopo, though still above alert level, is dropping substantially on its upper reaches.
Nhamucho added that the Incomati River remains 2.15 metres above alert level at the town of Magude, in Maputo province, and that the river is approaching alert level at Manhica, some 90 kilometres north of Maputo city.