Mozambique News Agency

Floods update - 8th March 2001

Storm to hit Zambezia

Maputo, 8 Mar (AIM) - Some already flooded coastal districts in the central Mozambican province of Zambezia could be hit by a storm on Thursday night, according to the country's National Disaster Management Institute (INGC).

The storm started battering the coast of the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado on Wednesday. "By 20.00 local time today (18.00 GMT) the tropical depression will reach the province of Zambezia", said a National Meteorology Institute (INAM) source on Thursday during a multi-sectoral meeting on the development of the current rainy season.

The storm has slowed down and is travelling at a speed of nine kilometres an hour, and it could hit the central province of Sofala by Friday. It is currently generating winds of up to 48 kilometres an hour.

"What worries us is that the storm could at anytime develop into a cyclone", said Filipe Lucio, national director of INAM, calling on the population to stay alert.

If it does not abate, the storm could drift further south, eventually hitting the province of Inhambane.

As for the Zambezi river, it is continuing to rise at Mutarara, Caia and Marromeu, three districts that are already suffering from severe flooding.

And the bad news is that for the coming days the trend will be for a further rise, according to the National Water Board (DNA).

The Cahora Bassa dam has four floodgates discharging at 100 per cent, and a fifth is now 50 per cent open - on Wednesday this floodgate was discharging at 25 per cent. The dam is currently discharging 8,566 cubic metres of water per second.

Further south on the Buzi river, the DNA says that levels are stable, but "due to the rains that have been falling in the region, the levels can rise".

The situation on the Pungue is said to be critical, and for three days running its waters have surged across the Mutua-Tica stretch of the Beira-Zimbabwe highway.

However, traffic is continuing on the road in the hours of daylight. (AIM)

President Chissano calls for additional flood relief

Maputo, 8 Mar (AIM) - Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano asked the international community, on Wednesday, for additional aid to help the victims of the floods in the central region of the country.

"It continues raining in the entire sub-region of Southern Africa and there is the threat of a tropical depression that is building up in the Mozambique Channel, thus making prospects, in the short term, extremely alarming", Chissano told a meeting of the diplomatic corps in Maputo.

"We are very worried", he stressed, "and the seriousness of the situation led us to invite you here to convey these concerns so that you may inform your governments of the need for additional and urgent support".

Chissano said "our major difficulties concern the shortage of logistics, namely planes and larger and more powerful boats for a large scale operation, to overcome the currents, for rescue operations".

The floods that are hitting the central region of Mozambique have already claimed 75 lives and at least two other people are missing. Of the about 490,000 people affected by this natural disaster, 81,300 are displaced.

The floods in the Zambezi valley have destroyed more than 32,500 hectares of assorted crops, directly affecting about 50,000 families, Chissano told the diplomats.

At least 183 schools were closed down because of the floods, affecting 52,350 pupils. (AIM)

INGC to resume control measures

Maputo, 8 Mar (AIM) - Mozambique's Disaster Management Institute (INGC) has decided to establish measures to control the channelling of relief aid intended for the flood victims in the centre of the country, in order to render aid distribution more transparent, and duly coordinated.

This is a re-installation of measures that were first applied at the height of the 2000 floods, and which arose from complaints that goods intended for the flood victims were being misused.

To clean up its image, the INGC then stressed that the process of reception and distribution of aid had to take place in the presence of community leaders of the areas affected, as well as of the beneficiaries.

Silvano Langa, the national director of the INGC, said that the control measures will help the institute to understand the nature of the grievances of the population in the government's accommodation centres.

Langa was speaking on Thursday at a multi-sectorial meeting involving members of the disaster management technical committee, UN agencies, NGOs and donors.

The INGC said at the meeting that over 870 tonnes of relief aid has been distributed to the population in accommodation centres in the central provinces of Tete, Manica, Sofala and Zambezia since the beginning of the rescue and relief operations. In most cases the relief workers used helicopters and boats. Greater quantities would have been distributed were it not for the small size of the boats and helicopters.

"That's why we've been asking our cooperation partners to allocate boats with a greater capacity", said Langa. He added that the ideal would be to transport relief aid by road. However, most roads are not passable thanks to the rains. The National Road Administration (ANE) has confirmed that most roads in the affected provinces are currently impassable.

Joao Zamissa of the INGC said that at least 50,000 people are housed in accommodation centres, 14,000 of them in the worst affected district, Mutarara in Tete province.

Langa called on donors to support government's water treatment efforts. "There's an urgent need to allocate water purifying units to the affected zones", he added. (AIM)

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