More flooding feared in Mozambique

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Low-lying southern Mozambican towns are at risk of being flooded for the second time in less than a month, as water levels in the Limpopo and Incomati rivers rose after heavy rains upstream in neighboring South Africa, government officials said Wednesday.

Low-lying southern Mozambican towns are at risk of being flooded for the second time in less than a month, as water levels in the Limpopo and Incomati rivers rose after heavy rains upstream in neighboring South Africa, government officials said Wednesday.

Residents of the towns of Chokwe and Xai-Xai and neighboring villages had been advised to evacuate, said Antonio Macheve, spokesman for the government's national disaster management agency.

"We are very worried. There is a serious risk of the towns being inundated," he said.

Many people who were driven from their homes by earlier flooding have ignored government warnings not to return home until the rainy season ends in late March.

Macheve estimated about 10,000 people had returned to Chokwe, which was hit by a two-meter (yard) high surge of water last month, forcing thousands of people to seek refuge in trees and rooftops until they were rescued by helicopter.

Capt. Frans Schoonbee, a spokesman for the South African Air Force, downplayed the danger, saying the situation was being closely monitored.

"The waters are rising, but it's nothing to worry about at this stage," he said.

U.S. Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Tom Dolny said two helicopters were on standby at Maputo airport for rescue missions.

Meanwhile, aid officials said the main road linking Maputo to flood-stricken areas farther north had been washed away again by floods, meaning aid deliveries by road had to be suspended.

The World Food Program on Wednesday launched a dlrs 8.4 million appeal to finance planes for aid delivery by air next month when most aircraft supplied by foreign militaries are due to be withdrawn, said Abby Spring, a spokesman for the U.N. agency.

A WFP assessment mission on Tuesday had not found a no rise in the water levels in the Limpopo River valley, but said the river was flowing strongly.

"It looks like things are stabilizing in the Limpopo area - at least for today," Spring said. "However, there could be flooding along the Incomati River."

Earlier this week, a remote area of northern Mozambique flooded when the Messalo River overflowed its banks. Up to four villages were submerged and the water isolated several districts from the rest of the country. However, no lives were lost, said Silvano Langa, head of the country's national disaster management agency.

More than a month of floods, the worst on record in this impoverished southeast African nation, have displaced an estimated 360,000 people nationwide. The confirmed death toll of 492 is expected to rise.

The government was due to launch a new appeal for aid later Wednesday.

Comments