Heavy rains cause 117 deaths in Zimbabwe

Harare, Feb 28 (IANS) At least 117 people have died due to heavy rains that have been received in Zimbabwe in recent months while 106 others have been injured by lightning, the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) has said.

More than 1,930 houses and rural huts were also damaged countrywide, leaving 635 families homeless, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.

A total of 71 schools, five health institutions and 71 dams had their walls breached while several roads and bridges were washed away due to the incessant rains.

Zimbabwe has been receiving heavy rains since January, resulting in most dams spilling and heightening the risk of flooding in low lying parts of the country.

The country was last week hit by the downgraded Cyclone Dineo, which has left a trail of destruction in most parts of the country, particularly in the low-lying Tsholotsho District in the north west where at least 850 people including children and the elderly have been displaced by flooding.

The villagers have been safely evacuated and are currently being housed at a local primary school.

“Tsholotsho is arguably the most severely affected district in the country to date and a considerable number of households have lost their homes to flooding or excessive moisture,” the CPU said.

The local school was flooded and children could not access the school, the CPU added.

The government had responded to the crisis in Tsholotsho by providing basic needs such as food, water, shelter and health services.

Humanitarian aid agencies the Red Cross Society and International Organization for Migration provided the affected villagers with clothing, shoes, blankets, mosquito nets and toiletries while UNICEF provided a class room tent to the affected school.

The CPU said the floods had also resulted in straying of wild animals in Lupane District.

“Due to the flooding, lions, zebras, and buffaloes are being spotted in some areas thereby causing fear in affected communities,” the CPU said.

The floods had also caused outbreaks of crop pests.

Elsewhere, the floods had damaged schools, clinics, power and water infrastructure as well as road networks in the Midlands Province where efforts were underway to repair the damaged infrastructure.

The heavy rains are coming on the backdrop of a devastating El-Nino induced drought last year which left a quarter of the population in need of food aid.

–IANS

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