Maputo, 8 Mar (AIM) – The storms and floods that have hit Mozambique since February have taken the lives of 117 people, according to Prime Minister Adriano Maleiane.
Giving information on the floods on Wednesday to the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, Maleiane said that, up to 5 March, 272,000 people had been affected.
Cyclone Freddy was responsible for much of the damage. When it hit parts of the southern provinces of Inhambane and Gaza in late February, it dropped between 300 and 900 millimetres of rain in 24 hours.
Instead of dissipating, this cyclone has returned to the Mozambique Channel and is now heading northwards towards Zambezia province, where it is expected to make landfall on Friday.
The heavy rains were swelling many of Mozambique’s main rivers. Maleiane said that the Limpopo, Incomati, Maputo, Pungoe and Rovuma rivers have all risen to flood alert level.
The Prime Minister added that so far about 50,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged, as well as 686 classrooms and 69 health units. The storms have also knocked down 194 electricity pylons.
11,000 kilometres of roads were damaged, and 73,000 hectares of crops were inundated.
Giving further details of the damage, Public Works Minister Carlos Mesquita told the Assembly that 265 aquaculture tanks were destroyed, and 86 fishing boats. 1,747 fishing nets were swept away.
The destruction of 686 classrooms in 1,012 schools affected slightly more than a million pupils and 11,895 teachers.
In addition to the crops swamped, farmers lost 1,089 head of cattle and 31,378 chickens and other poultry.
Mesquita said the government had acted to make people aware of the need to leave flood-prone areas and seek higher ground. The awareness campaigns reached over 170,000 people, of whom 18,229 were taken to safety in government-run accommodation centres.
Work was under way to repair the roads cut by the floods, including the placing of metallic bridges in places where the conventional bridges had been swept away.
Mesquita pointed out that the rainy season is by no means over and Cyclone Freddy continues to menace the central provinces. He urged the public to continue taking precautionary measures, and paying attention to the warnings issued by government bodies.