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Mozambique Flood alert levels on ORANGE!

by Byo24NEWS
21 Jan 2011 at 19:49hrs | Views
Maputo - Flood alert levels are on orange in parts of Mozambique as disaster management services mobilise to respond to flooding potentially as bad as the catastrophe in 2000.

Heavy downpours are steadily swelling the Southern African country's rivers, while authorities watch rainfall and water level indicators in countries upstream.

Some people living in the Limpopo River basin in the south of the country have started moving to safer ground after warnings that some 7 000 people could be affected if the river rose to the expected 2m above alert levels.

"If it keeps raining, the waters will flood Mozambique," Mozambique's National Emergency Operational Centre (Cenoe) director Dulce Chilundo said.

He said flood levels would "probably" reach the same proportions as the disaster in 2000, which killed about 700 people and inflicted damage of $419m.

Six years later, Cenoe was created to streamline authorities' response during the first 72 hours of an emergency, with $3.7m at its immediate disposal.

Mozambique's Cahora Bassa dam was 60% full, but the Zambezi River which fed it carried water from five other countries along its 2 700km route.

When the Kariba Dam, far upstream on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border, opened its sluices on February 29, the increased flow could quickly force Mozambique's dam operators to do the same.

In anticipation, the National Disaster Management Institute moved 24 000 families in the Zambezi basin to higher ground over the past four years.

The institute's secretary general Joo Ribeiro said the scheme relocated people's homes to higher ground, but their farms in fertile low-lying areas were still vulnerable.

"The river's level has already been 6.2m [1.2m above alert levels], but no intervention was needed because all the families are already higher," he said.

Source - SAPA