Mozambique News Agency
Serious flooding imminent in Zambezi Valley
Maputo, 1 Feb (AIM) – Serious flooding in the Zambezi valley in central Mozambique now looks inevitable following the decision taken on Tuesday to increase the discharges from the Cahora Bassa dam to 6,400 cubic metres per second.
A press release from Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB), the company that operates the dam, said that the Zambezi River Authority, which operates the Kariba dam on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, has warned that, as from Tuesday it is opening another floodgate, due to continued heavy rains upstream.
This will greatly increase the amount of water from Kariba that flows into the Cahora Bassa lake. HCB says that, in order to ensure the security of the dam, it too must now open another floodgate, though this measure will be delayed until Friday, 4 February.
At the weekend, HCB increased the Cahora Bassa discharges from 3,600 to 4,200 cubic metres per second. This level of discharge was not regarded as critical – but the National Emergency Operational Centre (CENOE) warned that any increase in the discharge to more than 5,000 cubic metres per second would lead to severe flooding.
The measuring posts on the lower Zambezi, at Mutarara in Tete province, and at Caia and Marromeu in Sofala, all show the river at between 60 and 90 centimetres above flood alert level. The announcement from HCB means that the situation is certain to become much worse as from next weekend.
HCB warns all users of the river, and anyone living near the banks to move to higher ground. The fact that this warning has been given three days in advance of opening the floodgate will make it easier for the authorities to organise any evacuation of people still living or working in dangerous areas.
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