Mozambique News Agency

Floods update - 26th March 2001

Flooding in central Mozambique worsens

Maputo, 26 Mar (AIM) - Flooding in central Mozambique worsened again over the weekend, as the levels of the two major rivers, the Zambezi and the Pungue, rose sharply.

The rise of the Zambezi was largely due to the opening of a further floodgate on the Cahora Bassa dam.

For several days the dam had been operating with just three of its eight floodgates open, which meant that it was releasing about half as much water as the dam lake was receiving, a situation which could not continue indefinitely.

Last Thursday, Cahora Bassa was discharging 6,617 cubic metres of water per second, but the lake was receiving (from the upstream Zambezi tributaries, and from the Kariba dam) 12,327 cubic metres a second.

For many days the lake had been holding more water than its theoretical maximum (reached when the height of the lake at the dam wall measures 326 metres above sea level). Thus on Saturday, the Cahora Bassa operating company, HCB, opened a fourth floodgate, increasing the discharges to 8,300 cubic metres a second.

As a result, reports Monday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", the Tete provincial government met on Sunday and decided to resume evacuating people from danger areas, particularly in the locality of Inhangoma, at the confluence of the Zambezi and Shire rivers. The evacuations had ceased last week, when the level of the Zambezi was dropping.

A sharp rise in the level of the Pungue led, for the fourth time in less than two months, to the closure of a key stretch of the Beira-Zimbabwe roads.

The waters of the Pungue swept across the road, between the small towns of Tica and Mutua, some 60 kilometres west of Beira, on Saturday.

Sections of road that had been repaired just a week ago were damaged again, and the Sofala Provincial Public Works Directorate closed the Mutua-Tica stretch to all traffic.

This means that it is once again impossible to travel by road from Beira either west towards Zimbabwe, or south towards Maputo. (AIM)

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