Mozambique News Agency

Floods update - 15th March 2001

Pugwe river floods Beira-Zimbabwe highway

Maputo, 15 Mar (AIM) - A new rise in the level of the Pungue river has caused renewed flooding of the road from the central Mozambican port of Beira to Zimbabwe, according to a report on Radio Mozambique.

This is the third time within a month that the road has been flooded. As before, it is the low lying stretch of the highway between Mutua and Tica, about 60 kilometres west of Beira, that has been affected.

Earlier reports suggested that the level of the Pungue was dropping: but on Thursday, measured at the point where the Beira- Zimbabwe road crosses the Pungue, the river rose again from 8.2 to 8.5 metres.

Citing Filipe Pangalae, the interim administrator of Dondo district, the radio said there are about 140,000 families in risk in the Pungue valley.

Pangalae also said that relief operations in the valley, temporarily halted due to a shortage of fuel, have now been resumed as stocks were replenished.

Meanwhile, the team from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) that has been assisting the flood relief operations further north, in the Zambezi valley, has announced its withdrawal.

A press release from the South African High Commission said that Thursday was the final day for the team's operations. "Presently, the situation in the Zambezi Valley is stable, and the SANDF has not been engaged in any direct rescue operations for the past few days", the High Commission said. But it promised that the SANDF "will return at short notice should the weather patterns alter for the worse in the Zambezi Valley". (AIM)

Food available for flood victims, says WFP

Maputo, 15 Mar (AIM) - The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has accused the Maputo daily paper "Noticias" of lying about the availability of food for flood victims in Tete province.

On Wednesday "Noticias" had carried a front page banner headline stating "Food stocks running out". The article cited a WFP official in Tete, Hitesh Kanakrai, as saying that there were only stocks of food for another five days in the flood-stricken district of Mutarara.

A WFP press release received by AIM on Thursday, describes the "Noticias" story as "spurious". Far from being short of food, there was, as of Tuesday, 217 tonnes of food in the warehouse at Mutarara.

"There are currently 24,000 people in the camps at Mutarara", said the release. "Stocks for the operation in Mutarara are being replenished as necessary, and no breaks are foreseen in the pipeline".

What Kanakrai had really told "Noticias", the WFP added, was "newly arrived people at the camps are receiving a 15 day ration" and "numbers are increasing by an average of about 500 people per day, mostly from Inhangoma".

On one point "Noticias" got it right. Kanakrai had confirmed a breach of security at one of the accommodation centres in Mutarara, where some food was stolen. The WFP added that "several of the culprits are in the hands of the police and an investigation is under way".

Meanwhile, the flood crisis in central Mozambique appears to be lessening. According to Thursday reports on Radio Mozambique, the level of the Pungue, Buzi and Save rivers is dropping, while that of the Zambezi is stationary.

The radio said that, in response to Mozambican pleas, the discharge from the Kariba dam, on the Zambia/Zimbabwe border has been cut, with the Kariba authorities shutting two of the three floodgates that were open.

This has allowed the Cahora Bassa dam in Tete to reduce its discharges. Although the dam lake is completely full, the dam has cut discharges from the fourth floodgate by 50 per cent, while leaving the first three floodgates fully open. (AIM)

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