19 February 2013

Mozambique: Cyclone Develops, but Moves Away From Mozambique

Maputo — The area of low pressure in the centre of the Mozambique Channel has intensified and is now regarded as a cyclone.

However, it is moving away from Mozambique and towards Madagascar. It is thus unlikely to worsen matters in flooded Mozambican river valleys.

The cyclone, so far known just as “16S”, was about halfway between the Mozambican and Madagascan coasts at midnight on Monday. According to the projection made by the US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Centre, the cyclone is moving slowly in a south-easterly direction, and will make landfall in southern Madagascar late on Thursday.

In Mozambique, moderate to heavy rainfall continued on Monday in the northern provinces of Cabo Delgado and Nampula, and the central province of Zambezia. According to the National Meteorology Institute (INAM), more of the same is forecast for the next five days.

Heavy rains are also forecast for parts of Zambia and Malawi. Much of the rain falling in these countries is likely to swell the Zambezi River, and its major tributaries such as the Chire and the Revobue.

The lower Zambezi remains above flood alert level all the way from Mutarara, in Tete province, to the river delta. However, a major flood on the Zambezi has been avoided because most of the water flowing down the Zambezi from Zambia and Zimbabwe is being held back by the Cahora Bassa dam.

On Monday, the dam reservoir was 67 per cent full. The reservoir was receiving 4,900 cubic metres of water a second from the upstream countries, but the dam was only releasing 1,800 cubic metres a second.

The country’s relief agency has now given a breakdown of the 113 known deaths since the start of the rainy season in October. 48 people were swept away by the currents or drowned while trying to cross swollen rivers.

34 people were struck by lightning. 12 victims were killed when houses collapsed on top of them. Nine people were electrocuted by live cables knocked down by storms.

Four people died when boats overturned, one person drowned in a well, one was attacked by a crocodile, and the causes of the remaining four deaths are classified as unknown.

By far the worst hit province is Gaza, with 42 deaths, caused mostly by the flood on the Limpopo river. There were 24 deaths in Zambezia and 19 in Nampula. Deaths in the other provinces were all in single figures, except for Inhambane, where no deaths at all were recorded.

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