Zimbabwe: Rescue effort gains upper hand

JOHANNESBURG, 28 February (IRIN) - With flood waters slowly beginning to recede in Zimbabwe, exhausted national emergency officials said on Monday the battle was gradually being won to provide for an estimated 180,000 people displaced by last week's torrential rains.
"Things are much more under control, at least we know where (stranded) people are and what they need. Accessibility has greatly improved and we can concentrate on getting food to them, organise shelter, and organise medicines," deputy director of the government's Civil Protection Unit, Sibusisiwe Ndhlovu, told IRIN.

She said according to preliminary figures, 182,400 people have been displaced in the country's southern and eastern districts along the borders with South Africa and Mozambique. They have been sheltered in public buildings as the rescue effort attempts to meet their needs. Trucks have been positioning supplies as close to the displaced as possible, with helicopters used - "weather permitting" - where roads have disappeared under the flood waters.

"In an emergency situation you never have enough of anything," Ndhlovu said. "But the public have been very, very generous. They have been coming in with clothes, and pots and pans for the displaced."

Zimbabwe declared a state of emergency on Thursday after four out of the country's eight provinces were hit by the effects of cyclone Eline in neighbouring Mozambique. Torrential rains caused dams to overflow, major rivers burst their banks, and homes, farms, roads and bridges were washed away. The death toll rose to 62 on Friday when at least 33 people died after a bus was swept off a crossing on the Mudzi river near the Mozambican border.

Ndhlovu said the latest forecast by the weather bureau was for light rains up until Wednesday, but flood waters were beginning to slowly subside.


IRIN-SA - Tel: +27-11 880 4633
Fax: +27-11 880 1421
Email: irin-sa@irin.org.za

[This item is delivered in the English service of the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. For further information, free subscriptions, or to change your keywords, contact e-mail: irin@ocha.unon.org or Web: http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN . If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]

Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2000