Mozambique floods kill 15, cut off roads
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Durban - The annual floods in Mozambique have already killed at least 15 people in the central province of Zambezia this year and have cut the main north-south artery, according to local government officials.
The usually placid Licungo River has become a raging torrent, in the worst floods this river basin has known since 1971.
At least 19 000 families have had to flee their homes as the waters rise.
At the town of Mocuba, the floodwaters swept away part of the bridge which carries the main north-south highway across the Licungo. This has cut road traffic from the north of the country to Beira and Maputo.
Queues of vehicles have built up at either end of the damaged bridge.
Passengers on buses travelling from the north towards Beira have been forced to sleep for two nights on board and they are running out of food and money.
Boats have been sent to the area, but the Licungo is flowing so rapidly that it is impossible to use them.
Further north, the main road has also been cut at the boundary between Mocuba and Ile districts, where the bridge over the Namilate River has collapsed.
The floods in Mocuba also swept away 10 electricity pylons holding transmission lines carrying power from the Cahora Bassa Dam to Upper Zambezia, and on to Nampula, Niassa and Cabo Delgado provinces.
Apart from a few institutions and individuals who own generators, the whole of northern Mozambique is without power.
The power cut also knocked out anything which depends on the internet - including the banks, and citizens in Nampula are unable to use ATMs.
Luis Amado, a spokesman for the electricity company EDM, said repairing the damage could take at least a week. Before the pylons can be replaced, the teams must first reach the area, and the forecast for all of Zambezia is for continued rain.
Meanwhile, the death toll from the mass poisoning in Chitima, capital of Cahora Bassa district, in Tete province, has risen to 73.
The people died after drinking “phombe”, a traditional brew made from sorghum, maize bran and sugar. It is suspected that an unidentified contaminant was added to the brew.
* On Thursday the SANDF will send soldiers to the flood ravaged Mocuba district in Mozambique.
Two Oryx helicopters, navy divers and medical staff from the South African Military Health Service, are also enroute. The soldiers will fly in an SA Air Force C-130 aircraft.
Independent Foreign Service