Maputo, 12 Mar (AIM) – The chairperson of the Mozambican relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGD), Luisa Meque, has ordered the compulsory removal of people still living in flood-prone areas, in parts of Zambezia, Sofala and Manica provinces threatened by cyclone Freddy.
As from Friday, the storm was already being felt along the Zambezia coast, and in the provincial capital, Quelimane. It was feared that, in Zambezia alone, the cyclone could affect about 170,000 people.
The INGD has sent teams to assist in the removal of people from dangerous areas, particularly near the banks of the Licungo river.
“We are focusing on compulsory removal”, said Meque. “The greater the number of people we remove from these areas, the fewer will be the number of human victims of the cyclone”.
“During the occurrence of the cyclone, nobody should be circulating on the roads”, she added. “We must guarantee that people are in safe places, after the storm passes and that we will be able to assess the damage caused”.
Acacio Tembe, of the National Meteorology Institute (INAM),told a meeting of the Emergency Operational Committee (CENOE) that Freddy could remain in the Mozambique Channel until 14 March, bringing heavy rains of up to 200 millimetres in 24 hours.
According to the US Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC), as Freddy made landfall its wind speed was 80 knots (about 150 kilometres an hour). However, by Tuesday, the JTWC expects the wind speed to drop to 30 knots.
In Tete province, the provincial government ordered the suspension of classes in all schools in areas that might be affected by the cyclone, notably in Doa and Mutarara districts in the Lower Zambezi valley.
The Secretary of State for Tete, Elisa Zacarias, recommended that the district governments and the local Disaster Risk Management Committees should find appropriate places to shelter those who might be affected by the storm.
Zacarias urged people still living in flood-prone areas to move to higher ground immediately to avoid loss of life, since the forecast is for continued heavy rains and strong winds.
To reduce the risk of flooding on the lower Zambezi, the Cahora Bassa dam is reducing the discharges through its floodgates.
The Central Regional Water Board (ARA-Centro) announced that, as from Friday, Cahora Bassa is reducing its discharges from 3,500 to 2,000 cubic metres a second. It is hoped that this will minimize the impact of the cyclone downstream from the dam.
“After the passage of cyclone Freddy, and without compromising the integrity of the dam, Cahora Bassa will resume discharges of about 3,500 cubic metres a second”, said ARA-Centro.