Geneva, February 21, 2000
ACT members in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa warn that floods are getting worse and continue to ruin more and more homes, fields and important infrastructure such as bridges and roads.
Philip Wijmans, Director of ACT-Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Mozambique, send the following update today: "This morning we got reports of the worsening situation of the flooding in Mozambique. In Gaza Province, Chokwe is completely flooded. People have left the town if they could.
Our project coordinator left with 5 staff families Sunday morning 01.00 hours and managed to get to Macia on the main road. The big wave in the Limpopo came an hour later. He was trying to get back to see about other staff but there is no fuel. Macia is isolated in all directions as well, but not flooded.
We are very worried about this and we are going to have a helicopter flight this afternoon to Xai Xai, Chokwe, Sabie and back to Maputo. We cannot access the situation properly as waters are too high and still rising. The weather forecast talks about more rain.
In Sofala our project coordinator reports on his visit to the project site. He could just reach the project office at Muxungwe, the road is blocked from there on, and so many trucks are parked there. The cyclone Eline really did a lot of damage. Many trees have been uprooted and block the roads; all crops have been lost, many houses have lost their roofs; many cashew trees are down; many schools have lost their roofs.
It was not possible to enter the project areas, but observations were made from the main road, from Beira up to Muxungwe, and people that managed to get out of the affected areas make reports.
Saturday we took a ride to see how far north we could get from Maputo. We managed to get 20 km beyond Palmeira (or 120 km from Maputo), where the road is severely cut. Slow repair was going on, but the water draining Zimbabwe and South Africa will reach the same again, and surely damage all that was fixed."
While waiting for possible access in Gaza and Sofala, ACT-LWF is continuing the crisis response to flood victims closer to Maputo. This primarily consists of food and shelter assistance to families who have either lost their homes or had to temporarily relocate.
Director Enos Moyo of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (Province ACT-ELCSA) send the following report on Monday:
"Cyclone Eline is ravaging the Northern Province and there seems to be no respite in sight with climatologists predicting more rains and other cyclones such as Gloria and Felicia hitting the province. The Province was just beginning to recover from the devastating torrential rains in which several people had died and roads and bridges washed away, when it was hit by cyclone Eline on Thursday 24 February 2000. Between 100mm and 400mm of rain was received in less than 12 hours in most areas of the Northern Province.
Due to the heavy downpours, the Great Letaba, Limpopo and Sand Rivers burst their banks and helicopters from both the South African Air Force and the South African Police Services were kept busy rescuing stranded people. At the Letaba Lodge, which is on the banks of the Letaba River it is reported that guests tried to form a human chain to cross the flooded plain but some were swept away and were found, clinging to bushes and trees. Forty-four people marooned by the floods had been rescued to safety and twelve people dead in the Northern Province alone by morning of Friday 25 February 2000.
The worst affected areas are in the former homelands of Venda and Gazankulu.
* Twelve people have died in the Northern Province alone
* Several people including an eight-year-old girl, who was left with a crushed pelvic area and a damaged bladder when her family house collapsed, were injured.
* Hospitals such the Siloam Hospital are marooned.
* Families are forced to keep corpses in their houses for several days because the torrential rains have cut them off from mortuaries and hospitals
* The dead have not been buried for several days because of the sodden grounds and relatives failing to travel for burials
* Several bridges and roads have been washed away and many are threatening to collapse. For example, the border post at Beit Bridge which links South Africa and Zimbabwe had to be closed on Friday because of the swelling waters of the Limpopo River and the collapsed bridge two kilometres before the border post on the South African side.
* The main road linking Thohoyandou to N1 via Dzanani has been closed by mudslides
* About a thousand houses and huts have been destroyed.
Details are still being compiled.
Response to the Disaster
A day after the first downpour caused by Cyclone Eline in the Northern Province ACT-ELCSA distributed food to 56 families and materials for shelter to 21 families. Washed away roads and bridges currently hamper further distribution. The sodden grounds are making it difficult for tent pitching. Instead of tents, ACT-ELCSA is distributing materials for the construction of temporary shelters in the form of corrugated iron sheets and gum poles. The beneficiaries will later use the materials for the construction of new houses. ACT-ELCSA is also distributing second hand clothing to most needy.
"The most badly affected provinces are Manicaland in the East, Masvingo in South-East and Matabeleland in the South," writes Maia Hakulinen, Director of ACT-LWF in Zimbabwe.
Her report (filed February 28) goes on: "Out of those areas ACT-LWF is operational in Beitbridge district in Matabeleland South and in Mwenezi district in Masvingo.
The Air Force are rescuing people by helicopters from the islands where they have escaped. Four people have been reported to be killed, three drowned and one hit by a fallen electricity line. Telephone lines have been cut off, thus the communication is difficult. Several bridges were flooded during the Eline. I understand that the brigde between Masvingo and Beitbridge has been damaged. In Beitbridge the amount of affected people is about 22000. More huts are reported still to be falling.
The crops in the affected areas have been destroyed. That means longer term need for food aid and seeds, until the new crop ripens in a year'stime. The goverment has decided to take grain from the strategic grain store, to feed the affected people."
Overview of ACT Response
In response to the current floods and cyclone destruction in Southern Africa, ACT International has: =C0 Issued an Appeal for US$ 1,1 million for flood relief in Mozambique. =C0 Issued an appeal for US $ 456,091 for flodd relief in South Africa - this appeal will soon be revised upwards to approx. US$ 790,000. =C0 Issued Rapid Response Payments of approx. US$ 50,000 for crisis assistance through ACT members in Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
For further information please contact: Nils Carstensen (mobile ++ 41 79 358 3171).
ACT Web Site address: http://www.act-intl.org
ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need through coordinated emergency response. The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.