31 March 2014

Mozambique: Flooding Cuts Off Northern Cabo Delgado

Maputo — The northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado remains cut in half by floods that have swept away a key bridge over the Messalo river, reports Monday's issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”.

With the bridge down it is impossible to travel overland from the provincial capital, Pemba, to the districts of Mueda, Muidumbe, Nangade, Mocimboa da Praia and Palma in the north of the province.

The bridge carries national highway 423, which is the only reliable road along which supplies can reach the northern five districts from Pemba and from points further south.

The bridge collapsed on Friday night and the immediate solution was to ferry people across the river in canoes. On Sunday two motor boats were brought in to replace the canoes - but they cannot carry vehicles.

The first product to run out was fuel. By 08.00 on Sunday, in all of Cabo Delgado only one petrol station, in Mocimboa da Praia, still had fuel. The managers of that station told reporters that, since motorists from all five districts were converging on Mocimboa da Praia to refuel, they expected the pumps to run dry at any moment.

The companies prospecting for natural gas in the Rovuma Basin, such as the US company Anadarko, and ENI of Italy, are based in Palma. They are attempting to bring fuel supplies from Pemba by ship.

Meanwhile Cyclone Hellen, which has brought rough seas and high winds to the northern part of the Mozambique Channel, is heading for the western coast of Madagascar.

The cyclone is forecast to strike Madagascar a glancing blow on Monday afternoon, but then turn back into the Mozambique Channel.

The projection made by the US Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Centre is that Hellen will then head straight for the central Mozambican coast and could make landfall in Zambezia province on Friday.

Currently the cyclone is generating waves up to 11.3 metres high, and winds of 230 kilometres an hour, with gusts of up to 275 kilometres an hour. Since cyclones lose strength over land, Hellen's encounter with Madagascar will slow it down. But it could pick up speed again when it heads back into the Mozambique Channel and the forecast is that by Friday it will still be generating winds of around 83 kilometres an hour.

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