10 April 2019

Zimbabwe: 'Earthquake Hit Before Cyclone Idai'

Photo: Columbus Mavhunga/VOA
South African police sniffer dogs have been sent to parts of Zimbabwe hit by Cyclone Idai to help look for those who are missing and presumed dead.

A 3.8 magnitude earthquake rattled Chimanimani and Chipinge shortly before Cyclone Idai which left 344 people dead and destroyed property worth billions of dollars, Government has revealed.

During his two visits to Chimanimani and Chipinge, President Mnangagwa highlighted that there was an unexplained phenomenon that happened in the areas which experts should investigate.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa briefed journalists after the eleventh meeting of Cabinet in Harare yesterday that Government was also working on relocating people in some of the areas affected by the cyclone.

Further, Government is planning to establish monuments at three centres that were hard hit by the cyclone.

This comes at a time when Government has revealed that it is seeking $612 million to assist victims of the natural disaster.

"Cabinet has also established that the scale of the disaster was to some extent exacerbated by a 3.8 magnitude earthquake which hit the Chimanimani areas shortly before the onset of the cyclone," she said.

"A team of experts is currently on the ground in the Chimanimani and Chipinge areas carrying out a disaster vulnerability assessment exercise with a view to determining the suitable long term settlement and land use patterns.

"Plans are also underway to establish monuments in honour of the departed persons in places such as Ngangu, Machongwe and Copa.

"Priority continues to be accorded to the repair or construction of damaged roads, and bridges, schools infrastructure, health infrastructure and provision of large scale psycho-social support."

As part of efforts to bring closure to the issue of missing persons as a result of the cyclone, Minister Mutsvangwa said Government would send a team of pathologists to Mozambique to take samples of the remains of Zimbabweans buried in that country to conduct DNA tests.

"The search and recovery process is now confined to recovery of the deceased as the missing persons can now be presumed to be dead," she said.

"Specialised equipment and the relevant expertise are being mobilised towards the recovery of the bodies buried under massive rock debris. Further, Cabinet wishes to advise that a team of pathologists will travel to Mozambique to collect samples of the remains of Zimbabweans who were buried there in order to facilitate the conduct of DNA test and subsequent positive identification by their relatives."

In the consolidated Tropical Cyclone Idai International Humanitarian Appeal that Minister Mutsvangwa shared with the media yesterday, Government outlined key areas that it required assistance and a budget breakdown.

With regards to food security and nutrition, Government said it required $29 million while emergency shelter and non-food items requires $75 million.

The budget of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Education stand at $51 million and $10 million respectively while logistics and emergency telecommunication requires $155 million.

The budget for environment, forestry and wildlife restoration is $4,5 million and another $20 million is required for protection facilities.

Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo said President Mnangagwa had taken a hard stance against the abuse of goods donated as aid to the cyclone victims.

He said the President made it clear that anyone caught stealing or abusing the aid should go to jail.

Minister Moyo said people who were arrested so far for abuse of the aid were officials employed to distribute the food.

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