Maputo — Storms, torrential rains and swollen rivers claimed 22 lives in the first three weeks of the 2020-2021 rainy season, according to Mozambican government spokesperson and Deputy Justice Minister, Filimao Suaze.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, at the end of the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), Suaze said that, in addition to the deaths, at least a further 12 people were injured in the storms between 1 and 19 October.
He added that 13 of those who died were swept away by flash floods at Nadjedje in Rapale district, in the northern province of Nampula. Suaze was clearly referring to the flood on the Meluli river on the night of 12 October, which carried to their deaths a group of illegal gold miners, most of whom had been sleeping in what seemed to be a dry river bed. The death toll given at the time from this incident was 16, rather than the 13 mentioned by Suaze.
He added that further eight people died in storms when the walls of their flimsy houses collapsed on top of them. The 22nd death was that of a man struck by lightning.
Suaze said there had also been hailstorms, and flooding of low-lying areas in Tete province, due to an increase in discharges from the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi river.
There had been floods in Niassa, Nampula, Zambezia and Manica provinces and in Maputo city, affecting 16,657 people. 922 houses were completely destroyed, said Suaze, and a further 1,904 were damaged.
Torrential rain also damaged 91 classrooms, and affected three health units, and 14 places of worship.