Zimbabwe evacuates people at risk as powerful storm edges closer

Tropical storm Chalane is expected to reach Zimbabwe on Wednesday. Stock photo.
Tropical storm Chalane is expected to reach Zimbabwe on Wednesday. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/ Anna Nikonorova

The civil protection unit (CPU) in Zimbabwe has started evacuating people in the eastern parts of the country most vulnerable to tropical storm Chalane, which is expected to make landfall on Wednesday.

The storm has reached the Mozambique Channel and meteorological services said it was expected to intensify before making landfall in central Mozambique.

Thereafter it’s expected to sweep into Zimbabwe later in the day, with the likelihood of affecting most parts of the country if it continues with its detected intensity.

Chimanimani, a small farming town, and surrounding areas bordering Mozambique - still reeling from the effects of the devastating Cyclone Kenneth and Cyclone Idai last year and Cyclone Dineo in 2017 - have started evacuations.

Fears are mounting because before the storm arrives, some areas such as Chibuwe village are already experiencing floods due to heavy rainfall.

“We are being relocated from our tents, where we have been staying since Cyclone Idai last year, to safer centres,” said Witness Gambire, 35, from Nyamusundu. He told the Sunday Times in March that he lost his family to Cyclone Idai in 2019.

Government spokesperson Nick Mangwana tweeted: “Evacuation is currently under way in Chimanimani as the government prioritises residents' safety in case Chalane hits the area with a devastating effect.” 

Chimanimani member of parliament Joshua Sacco said the ministry of health had provided clinics with medicine and there were teams on standby to rescue people if they were stranded on the roads. He advised people to avoid travelling to areas where the storm was expected to hit hard.

Schools and churches in the danger zones have been offered as shelter to those evacuated. The government said it has availed $30m (R439.8m) for disaster response.

The country’s fourth-largest city Mutare was also been put on high alert. 

“People in low-lying areas of Mutare such as Zimta and Bernwin and those living in temporary accommodation such as Federation and Kimboki are being advised to find alternative accommodation before disaster strikes,” read a statement from the municipality.

The meteorological services department (MSD) said on Monday the incoming storm could be as powerful as Cyclone Dineo of 2007.

Dineo destroyed an estimated 20,000 homes in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, displacing at least 130,000 people. It led to widespread flooding in Zimbabwe’s Mutare, Chiredzi and Beitbridge, floods in Botswana and a cholera outbreak that hit Malawi and Mozambique.

Malawi’s department of disaster management affairs said the country was prepared to respond to the storm.

TimesLIVE


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