Warnings of new floodwaves

As the call for more helicopters for rescue operations continues, thousands of people remain stranded by flood waters in southern Mozambique. Amid warnings of new floodwaves heading down the Limpopo river from South Africa, an estimated 300,000 people have lost everything and are in need of immediate assistance. The Limpopo river delta has expanded to over 30km across at Xai-Xai.
Helicopter assessments of the Save river valley are showing that around 40,000 people have been badly affected by flooding which is, however, now thought to be easing in that area. There are increasing fears that the Zambezi valley further north could also suffer flooding after the opening of the floodgates of the Kariba Dam on the Zimbabwe-Zambia border.

There are currently heavy rains affecting southern Malawi, causing concerns that increased water levels in the Shire river, which feeds the Zambezi, will cause flooding in central Mozambique. With a tropical depression hanging over the region, rains are expected to continue for some days yet. The depression is also bringing with it cyclones, the latest of which, Gloria, is currently in the Mozambique channel having lashed the island of Madagascar. It is predicted to hit Inhambane, in the north of Gaza Province, within the next 24 hours.

Malaria is a growing worry with clouds of disease-carrying mosquitoes appearing in flooded areas. According to Unicef officials, between 40 - 50% of people rescued from Save river valley are showing symptoms of malaria.

Oxfam's programme

People have been gathering in large numbers at four centres in Macia, south of Chokwe in Gaza Province. There are estimated to be over 10,000 there at the moment. Oxfam is setting up water storage, chlorination and distribution at these centres, and has also distributed sheeting, water containers and blankets. A transit camp has also been set up in Chiquealane, where Oxfam is trucking in water and has built 80 latrines. There are an estimated 30,000 people in the camp, mainly from the Chokwe area - many having been rescued by helicopters and boats.

Oxfam has deployed twelve Zodiac 6 - 8 person inflatable boats with outboard motors as part of its search and rescue operation. Five of these boats are operating in and around Chokwe, one of the worst affected areas along the Limpopo river. Oxfam has also hired a helicopter to assist with search and rescue, and to move aid equipment out from the capital, Maputo.

A second Oxfam GB flight of emergency equipment from the UK will leave on Tuesday 7th March. It will contain water and sanitation equipment, shelter materials, blankets and feeding kits.