Maputo — The torrential rains that have fallen for the past week in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado have killed at least four people in the provincial capital, Pemba, according to a report carried by the independent television station STV.
Three died when a house collapsed in the Pemba neighbourhood of Cariaco, and a child drowned in a stream in the Chiuba neighbourhood.
The mayor of Pemba, Tagir Carimo, who visited the worst hit areas on Thursday, accompanied by the Cabo Delgado provincial governor, Abdul Razak, told reporters that the city is in a disaster situation. He said these are the heaviest rains Pemba has seen for at least 20 years.
According to the Beira daily paper “Diario de Mocambique”, the Municipal Council spent around three million meticais (about 98,400 US dollars) on emergency repairs at critical points following the initial storms this rainy season.
That was an attempt to prevent roads from being cut. But the past week's downpours have swept away that work, and Carimo admitted it had failed.
Over 100 houses built of flimsy materials have been destroyed, and the severe erosion has wrecked part of the mains pipe supplying drinking water to the city.
The storms have also swept away a bridge over the Messalo river, cutting off Pemba from the northern districts of Cabo Delgado.
Cabo Delgado is currently under the influence of Cyclone Hellen, which formed in the Mozambique Channel about three days ago. The cyclone, which started as the storm system that brought such misery to Cabo Delgado, is currently moving away from Mozambique towards the western coast of Madagascar.
Cyclones strengthen over water, and so Hellen is expected to become a more dangerous storm as it heads for Madagascar, which it will probably hit on Sunday night.
The forecast from the US Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Centre is that Hellen will then turn to the south-west, and by Wednesday will be heading back towards Mozambique. It is thus likely that rains will continue in the coastal areas of northern Mozambique for another week.