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Helicopter rescues for storm-ravaged communities

by Staff reporter
13 Dec 2019 at 07:22hrs | Views
The Department of Civil Protection is organising helicopter rescues and helping with money to repair infrastructure damaged by the heavy rains and violent storms that have seen 19 people killed by lightning. Eighty-five schools and 21 clinics have also been damaged.

The new Karanda Bridge in Mashonaland Central saw one if its decks swept away on Tuesday. Rains have damaged a prison in Rusape and killed one person and damaged infrastructure in Silobela in the Midlands last weekend.

According to the department the worst affected province is Midlands. Department of Civil Protection director, Mr Nathan Nkomo, said the rains resulted in loss of amenities such as schools, clinics, Government buildings and a prison.

"We have disbursed money to Midlands for the rehabilitation of the damaged schools and our provincial development coordinator has been given part of that money. We have also sent out  money to more than 49 rural districts to carrying out surveillance in preparation for any eventuality. The money might not be enough but it gives sub-national civil protection communities a starting point in terms of assisting those who might have such disasters.  

"For Umwe floods, Ngezi floods and Mberengwa we have some people who were marooned and we dispatched an Air Force of Zimbabwe helicopter to assist them. What we are now waiting for are the actual statistics of how many people were really marooned. Because when people are marooned, you cannot tell how many they are. You only get to know of the actual figures when those people get assistance so all my sub-national structures are yet to inform me of how many people were affected.

"In terms of lightning, the figure of killed people remains at 19. Those were the causalities which l can comfortably mention for now,'' he said.  

At Karanda Bridge, the District Development Fund (DDF) provincial coordinator Mr Keni Clement Mtombo said the deck which was swept away was the eighth and they were left with only two more to complete the bridge. They also lost 330 bags of cement and quarry stones that were being used in the construction of the deck.

"Normally a deck takes 14 days to dry before we start working on the next one. Unfortunately the unexpected flow of water disturbed the scaffolding resulting in the deck collapsing," said Mr Mtombo.  

"The other completed decks are intact and all the pillars are in place. We cannot continue with the construction of the deck until the water subsides." Mr Mtombo said they were now concentrating on the access road from Nyakasikana to Karanda.

The rains have also affected a detour at Mwanzamutanda Bridge in Kanyemba, Mbire district. In Manicaland heavy rains accompanied by strong and violent winds swept through Nyazura on Sunday leaving a trail of damage at Nyazura Farm Prison where cells, staff houses, water and electricity and ablution facilities were not spared. The destruction left 186 prisoners sharing a cell that has a carrying capacity of 70 inmates.  

Roof sheets of 36 staff houses and the administration block were blown off. Makoni district development coordinator, who is also the civil protection committee chairman Mr Edwin Mashindi, said the rains were now falling directly into the Blair toilets.  

"On Sunday there were strong winds which came from the southern parts and swept across Nyazura Farm Prison. It caused extreme damage to the inmates' cells which had its roof blown off. The ablution facilities roof was blown off and rain is now falling directly into the toilet. There are now fears of cholera because of the situation."

"The roof sheets that were blown off landed on electricity lines leading to power cuts. The power cuts led to water supplies being cut off because the water pumps are powered by electricity. 36 staff houses were also affected and there is urgent need for decent houses for prison officers. About 150 asbestos sheets need to be replaced as soon as possible," said Mr Mashindi.

In Silobela in Midlands lightning killed a seven-year girl in a storm that damaged property worth thousands of dollars. Moreblessing Moyo of Ward 21B, Mtshogwe Village under Chief Malisa died on the spot after the lightning struck and torched a house.

The little girl had been left with a neighbour, Prosper Ncube, by her grandmother who had travelled for a church service.

Four others in the house were left nursing minor injuries and were ferried to Silobela District Hospital where they are currently admitted. Silobela Legislator Mthokozisi Manoki-Mpofu confirmed the death of the Fatima Primary School Grade 1 pupil.

"I can confirm the unfortunate incident in which we lost Moreblessing Moyo who was doing Grade 1 at Fatima Primary School. She died on the spot and her body was ferried to Silobela District Hospital," said Manoki-Mpofu.

Manoki-Mpofu said, the storm also blew off roof sheets from several classroom blocks across the district.


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