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Landslide, impassable bridges as heavy rains pound Matabeleland South

Floods continue to wreak havoc in Matabeleland region and the Midlands Province where more families are being rendered homeless, with helicopters responding swiftly to rescue the marooned.

Causeway Bridge which is now flooded by Tuli River has cut off connection between Ntepe and Ntalale villagers for the past two weeks in Matabeleland South Province.The picture taken on Wednesday shows the volume of water.(Picture by Eliah Saushoma)

In a rare occurrence caused by the heavy rains, a mountain was disintegrating in Matabeleland South.

There were also reports of people who survived the floods by spending hours in trees until the waters receded.

In Matabeleland South, 17 people who were stranded in West Nicholson on Tuesday and Wednesday when Mbembesi and Umzingwane rivers burst their banks were rescued by a helicopter dispatched from Bulawayo.

Some of the villagers endured Tuesday night marooned, until help came the following day.

Gwanda Acting District Administrator and chairperson of the local Civil Protection Unit (CPU), Mr Judge Dube, also confirmed the rescue of the people yesterday and said the situation has returned to normal in West Nicholson.

When Mbembesi River burst its banks, a portion of the Bulawayo-Beitbridge highway was flooded near West Nicholson and vehicles travelling between Zimbabwe and South Africa were blocked for about 12 hours.

Tuli River and its tributaries have cut off access from Ntalale and other areas in Gwanda North and South to the other side enroute to Gwanda town for the past two weeks.

In Gokwe, the Midlands Minister for Provincial Affairs, Cde Jason Machaya, said five people, three women and two men, from Bariwa Village under Chief Njelele were on Wednesday stranded near Bariwa River while they were working in their fields.

He said the CPU responded swiftly by sending a helicopter from Thornhill Airbase in Gweru.

Cde Machaya said the five were rescued after spending hours hanging on tree tops.

“I am informed that five people have been marooned in Bariwa village after a heavy storm that left the river flooded. We have sent a helicopter to rescue them,” he said.

In Matabeleland South, there was a rare occurrence as people in Bambanani village in Filabusi panicked on Tuesday night when a landslide collapsed a mountain in the area.

The incident, which occurred at 11PM at Benera Mountain sent mud, large rocks and trees rolling down the approximately 100m high mountain.

The incident triggered panic among the villagers who said they heard a deafening noise that sounded like exploding grenades.

“The noise was scary and strange. Everyone was frightened because it was our first time to hear such a noise. Nobody could even guess what was happening.

The noise lasted about 20 minutes and we went to investigate when it was quiet.

“We discovered that large rocks and trees had moved from the top of the mountain to the ground. It’s fortunate that the ground was wet so the rocks didn’t roll to the nearby homesteads,” said Mr Levy Dube, a villager who stays close to the mountain.

Insiza South MP Cde Malachi Nkomo visited the area on Wednesday.

He told The Chronicle that he went to the mountain which is in his constituency after he was told that there had been a landslide.

He said he was shocked by what he saw.

Village head Mr Lovemore Sibanda also travelled from his homestead to see the rare occurrence after receiving news about it from villagers.

“I heard of the strange occurrence and I decided to come and see for myself. It’s amazing. We’re seeing this for the first time. It has never happened before.

“We’re therefore taking it seriously and it calls for action on our part. Maybe our forefathers are talking to us. We will therefore meet as villagers and map the way forward. This is an incident we can’t ignore,” he said.

In Matabeleland North, District Administrator for Tsholotsho Ms Gladys Zizhou said there were a few isolated incidents where pole and dagga huts collapsed because of the rains but no homesteads or villages had been affected so far in the flood-prone district.

Twenty families in Masvingo South and Chivi South were left homeless when their homes were destroyed by floods on Monday, an official confirmed. The Chronicle

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