Worst flooding in years swamps Zimbabwe

The Mtshabezi River bridge in Gwanda

By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
10 February 2014

The Civil Protection Unit (CPU) has issued fresh flood warnings after the death of four people over the weekend, when their Zupco bus plunged into the Musavezi river near Shurugwi in the Midlands province.

As the bus was midway over the bridge a strong current of water swept the bus into the raging river. Luckily twenty-three other passengers, mainly cross border traders, escaped unhurt, but the driver sustained minor injuries.

Reports say two bodies, that of a male and a female, were discovered near the wreckage a day later, while two others, that of an elderly woman and a minor, were found some distance away following a night long search. The bus was travelling from Beitbridge to Kwekwe when disaster struck.

Heavy rains have been drenching the country since January, causing widespread flooding along rivers. Many parts of the country, from Muzarabani up in the north to Beitbridge down in the south, are now experiencing the worst floods in many years, as water inundates villages, farms, homes and major vital roads.

The major road that links Bulawayo to South Africa via Beitbridge was cut-off for hours between Saturday and Sunday when the Mtshabezi river bridge in Gwanda was submerged by torrents of non-stop rain.

Our correspondent in Bulawayo, Lionel Saungweme, said the road has since reopened after the water subsided and is now flowing just underneath the bridge. He said flood waters have paralysed large parts of the country.

Heavy rains for the past four weeks have swelled rivers and cut-off bridges and traffic to many parts of the country. Weeks of heavy rain have left large parts of the Masvingo, Midlands and Matabeleland South provinces under water with the levels of most dams and rivers appearing to have peaked, leaving the situation critical in many areas, particularly along rivers.

But the rains have also brought joy to the city of Bulawayo which has been struggling with the supply of water, as most of its dams had almost dried up.
Latest statistics for Bulawayo’s water supply dams show that Mtshabezi and Insiza Mayfair dams are 100% full, while Umzingwane stands at 68.7 %, Lower Ncema is now 67.7 % and Inyankuni 21.2 % full.

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