The Sunday News
Nyore Madzianike in Mutare
AN entire township and its amenities including a police station, schools, business centre and Government offices were swept away to ‘‘ground zero’’ in Chimanimani by the Cyclone Idai-induced floods, a scary confirmation the death toll in the area could be higher than being estimated, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing July Moyo yesterday said indications were that 39 schoolchildren including their head and three teachers, in Rusitu Valley, were swept to their death by the strong waters that characterised the cyclone.
The township was totally wiped with the area where it used to be now occupied by huge boulders and soil that was dragged by the water from adjacent mountains. Speaking in Mutare yesterday after receiving a donation of various goods worth $400 000 from Inscor Africa, Minister Moyo, said: “At first, we were saying we were missing 147 people, now it is turning out that we are missing people whose 147 houses have been destroyed. So it is no longer people, but households which have been destroyed.
“In Rusitu (Valley), we had a police camp which was wiped out, we had Agritex officers who were housed there. We had some schools there. We had a school where we lost three teachers, the headmaster and 39 pupils. These are areas we frantically want to reach, but there are many others.”
He added: “In Machongwe area they need to get food and there was a township that was completely wiped out. We do not know the number of survivors. We also understand that there were miners and we cannot accurately tell the number of those who perished there. The villagers are not able to identify those who were doing gold mining in the area.”
Minister Moyo said rescue teams were making frantic efforts to open roads to reach to all areas that have been rendered inaccessible due to damaged roads and bridges so that survivors get assistance while affording the dead a decent burial.
“Our teams are making efforts to open roads. Areas like Biriwiri are still not accessible even from Nyanyadzi. All the bridges were damaged from Wengezi to Nhedziwa and Biriwiri. We want to reach all areas that are in dire need like Ngangu and Rusitu.
“The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development is working with private companies like GreenFuel, Masimba Holdings and Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company to open new roads,” he said.
Minister Moyo said besides Chimanimani, other areas that were in need of assistance include Buhera, Gutu, Bikita, Zaka, Mvuma and Chirumhanzu.
A Harare-based housing and construction company, Enhanced Mortgage and Housing Africa has pledged to rebuild St Charles Lwanga Secondary School dining hall as well as 20 houses for the affected families in Chimanimani.
EMH Africa has also pledged to build classroom blocks at affected schools in Chipinge and Chimanimani.
The Cyclone Idai-induced rains affected mostly Chimanimani and Chipinge in Zimbabwe while indications are that 90 percent of the port city of Beira in Mozambique has been destroyed. The rains also devastated parts of Malawi.