Maputo — The death toll in the current Mozambican floods has risen to 81, according to Rita Almeida, spokesperson for the country’s relief agency, the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC).
Of these victims, 41 died in the southern province of Gaza, where the flood on the Limpopo River was the most serious since the catastrophic flooding of 2000.
“We can’t say the worst has passed, because there are still very strong flows in the rivers”, said Almeida. “Communities should stay away from zones of risk until information to the contrary”. The rainy season continues until the end of March.
Alberto Libombo, the administrator of the worst-hit district, Chokwe, cited by Radio Mozambique, said that the situation in Chokwe town is improving.
The flood waters have receded, and teams are cleaning up to allow residents to return and resume their normal activities.
But parts of the district are still in a critical condition, said Libombo, notably the Chilembene administrative post, where some villages are still under water.
According to the latest bulletin from the National Water Board (DNA), the Limpopo is now dropping at Xai-Xai, the Gaza provincial capital, near the mouth of the river. Flood alert level here is 4.3 metres, and the river fell from 5.1 metres on Tuesday to 4.98 metres on Thursday morning.
Further south, in Maputo province, the Incomati river remains above the alert level (five metres) at the town of Magude, but it too is gradually dropping – from 5.45 to 5.25 metres between Tuesday and Thursday.
The same is true of the Maputo River in the far south. At Madubula, where the alert level is 3.5 metres, the river fell over the same period from 3.78 to 3.58 metres.
Rivers in the central provinces are also falling. Thus at the Mafambisse sugar plantation in Sofala province, where alert level is six metres, the Pungoe river fell from 6.89 metres on Tuesday to 6.8 metres on Thursday.
The Zambezi remains above alert level on its lower reaches, but here too the water is dropping, albeit very slowly. At Marromeu, the measuring station nearest to the river’s mouth (alert level 4.75 metres), the river fell from 6.89 to 6.8 metres between Tuesday and Thursday.
The Zambezi could be affected by increased discharges from the Cahora Bassa dam. The discharges rose from 2,143 cubic metres a second on Wednesday, to 2,200 cubic metres a second on Thursday.
In Zambezia province, the Licungo river is now causing concern. It rose sharply from 4.88 metres on Tuesday, at the town of Mocuba, to 6.23 metres on Wednesday and 6.58 metres on Thursday. Alert level at Mocuba is six metres.
The DNA warns that the Licungo is likely to burst its banks and flood villages further downstream, in Maganja da Costa district.