Mozambique: 90,000 in Sofala Flood Zone; Water Dropping Only Slowly

Edinburgh University researchers estimate that 90,000 people were caught in the giant flood west of Beira. This "inland sea" is 120 km long and up to 30 km wide. This is the area that includes Buzi and the main N6 road east of Tica and continues north though populated areas between the N6 road and the Pungue River. The estimate is by Edinburgh University researchers Casey Ryan and Sam Bowers. Their map is on At least 85 families are simply camped on the shoulder of the N6 road, who tell of children and other families members washed away by he sudden flood waters. The EN6 reopened yesterday and has long queues of lorries. (O Pais 25 Mar)

Water levels are falling only very slowly. Flood waters come from the Buzi and Pungue rivers. The Buzi is now below flood level. But the Pungue (measured at Mafambisse on the eastern edge of the flood zone) remained 2.5 m above flood level yesterday, down only 25 cm from two days before (22 March) and only 80 cm down on its peak on 19 March. By contrast, on 14 March before the cyclone the Pungue was 1.4 m below flood level.

The first and most extensive outside help came from the Indian navy, which diverted three training ships which were on their way to Durban and arrived a week ago (18 March). They had three helicopters with winches for rescue, doctors, food, clothing and medical supplies; 192 people were rescued and Indian doctors provided assistance to 1,381 people. The navy cadets have also been organising people arriving in Beira from Buzi on private boats. Portuguese and Chinese rescue teams arrived at the weekend.

An MI-8 transport helicopter contracted by the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) is airdropping inter-agency emergency kits, including food (high-energy biscuits and micronutrient-rich peanut paste used to prevent and treat malnutrition) as well as tents, medicines and other essentials for stranded communities outside Beira.

INGC reported this morning that 128,000 people are now in accommodation centres. INGC is not using its web page but is posting on Facebook:ão-de-Calamidades-INGC-301550567173664/ Parts of Zambezia can still only be reached by boat.

Metal emergency bridging acquired from in China for $12 mn in 2016 with specialised transport vehicles was not used to reopen the N6 road to Beira because of a communications failure, admitted Minister of Public Works João Machatine. They could have been used, and would have allowed trucks to move faster, but instead dirt bypasses were built beside the washouts. (@Verdade 25 Mar)

Some Cahora Bassa power has been restored to South Africa. There are two power lines. One is significantly damaged and will take months to repair. The other was less damaged and was repaired over the weekend, according to Eskom.

Two thirds of houses in Beira City have suffered roofing damage and one third have suffered structural failure, according to rapid survey by the Shelter Cluster, reported the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs this morning.

Tonnes of aid: Yesterday (24 Mar) the WFP Logistics Cluster in Beira facilitated handling, offloading and transport services of the following aircraft:

  • One C-295 cargo plane transporting 8 tonnes of humanitarian cargo from DFID, UNICEF and WFP from Maputo, to Chimoio and Beira;
  • Two Ilyushin cargo planes transporting DFID and THW relief cargo;
  • Two rotations of the MI-8 helicopter;
  • One Boeing 757 with 20 tonnes of High Energy Biscuits (HEB) from Dubai.

WFP Logistics Cluster reports that "humanitarian partners have not reported any importation/customs constraints since the beginning of the emergency. … The INGC is assisting organisations in fast-tracking relief items from customs at Beira and Maputo airports and sea ports."

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