Hundreds of Maputo Houses Flooded in Mozambique
Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)
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Maputo — Wednesday morning’s torrential rains in Maputo severely affected 316 households, containing 1,580 people, according to detailed information released on Thursday by the government’s relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC).
100 of these households are in the semi-rural district of Catembe, on the other side of Maputo Bay from the centre of the city. All of their houses were flooded, and 20 of them are still in urgent need of accommodation.
80 houses were flooded in Costa do Sol neighbourhood, 57 in Mafalala, 34 in Chamanculo, 27 in Mahotas and 17 in Benfica. In the Inhagoia and 25 June neighbourhoods, the INGC was unable to count the number of flooded houses – but it noted that two houses in Inhagoia were completely destroyed by the force of the waters.
Other houses are at risk. The INGC warns that 22 houses in Benfica and eight in Polana Canica could collapse if the rains resume in the near future. The Polana Canica houses are on the edge of a crater – and the rains opened a second crater in the neighbourhood, which is undermining the foundations of other houses.
One death has been reported, an old man in Mafalala, who fell and drowned in his flooded house as he was trying to rescue some of his property.
The flooding of latrines and septic tanks threatens to contaminate wells, and could lead to epidemics of water borne diseases such as cholera. The areas most at risk are Mafalala, Ferroviario and Catembe.
Detailed information now published by the National Meteorology Institute (INAM) makes it clear that the Wednesday storm was highly localized. In 12 hours on Wednesday, the Mavalane weather station in Maputo recorded an extraordinary downpour of 290.4 millimetres. But at the Maputo Observatory station the rainfall recorded was just a quarter of this figure, 71.5 millimetres.
At Changalane, near the border with Swaziland, rainfall in the same period was just 28 millimetres, and in Inhambane, some 500 kilometres north of Maputo, it was 20 millimetres.
Prior to the Wednesday storm, rainfall in central and southern Maputo had been lower than the average for the rainy season (October to March). The forecast for the next fortnight is for continuing rain – but much more in northern Mozambique than in the southern provinces. “Light to moderate” rains are expected in the south over Thursday and Friday, after which drier conditions are forecast.
One encouraging weather phenomenon is that all the cyclones formed in the western Indian Ocean so far this rainy season have traveled away from the African mainland, dissipating harmlessly at sea.
As for the country’s rivers, most of them are in no immediate danger of flooding. Only the Maputo river, in the far south, has risen above flood warning level. The National Water Board (DNA) warns that continued rainfall in central Mozambique could push the Buzi river in Sofala province to flood alert level – but as of Wednesday evening the Buzi at Goonda was still over two and a half metres below the alert level.
The main Mozambican dams are far from full, and can still store large amounts of water flowing in from neighbouring countries. The largest of all, the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi, is only 57.76 per cent full – which compares with 61.63 per cent at the same time last year.
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