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Alert raised as Tropical Storm Chalane makes landfall in Zimbabwe

The Eastern Highlands has started receiving continuous light rains as a result of the former Tropical Storm Chalane which is now an overland Tropical Depression with the public urged to watch out for flooding, flash flooding, sudden gushes of water, mudslides or landslides, destructive winds and collapse of huts due to excessive moisture within the next 12 hours and beyond.

Chimanimani residents being evacuated from St Patricks and Mutambara Mission as the Government prioritises public safety ahead of heavy rains from Tropical Storm Chalane
Chimanimani residents being evacuated from St Patricks and Mutambara Mission as the Government prioritises public safety ahead of heavy rains from Tropical Storm Chalane

Localised heavier downpours above 50 millimetres accumulation over the next 24 hours are projected especially over areas along the main watershed and the eastern Highlands.

A flooding alert issued by the Meteorological Services Department early this morning indicates that the Tropical Depression Chalane made a landfall over Beira in early hours of today and is expected to rapidly dissipate, with wind speed reducing from the current 50 knots to 25 knots, as it tracks westward over the rugged hills of the Eastern Highlands in the next 12 hours.

“These downpours may result in reduced visibility and flash flooding in areas with poor drainage as well as along river basins.

Mudslides and landslides as well as collapse of walls, due to excessive moisture, remain probable, thus monitoring your immediate environment is essential. Wherever possible, stay indoors,” warned the MSD.

The department also urged the public to watch out for the collapse of huts, houses and fallen trees due to excessive moisture.

“Never attempt to cross fast flowing or flooded rivers and streams whether walking or driving. Stay indoors wherever possible.

“Cooperate with members of the civil protection committee for your safety. Take caution on the roads as they may be treacherous, if you urgently need to travel.

“Keep your emergency kit close and monitor your surroundings. Follow weather updates or call MSD Provincial Officers: Manicaland: +263 712 504 107, Mash East : +263 772 429 036, Masvingo : +263 772 553 286, Main Office: +263 778 911 176,” said the MSD.

The evacuation of people in susceptible areas started yesterday, with people that were living in tents evacuated to St Patricks High School (54 people) and Mutambara High School (64 people), Manicaland Provincial Development Coordinator (PDC) Mr Edgars Seenza told The Herald yesterday.

Both are boarding schools and have decent facilities.

However, some residents resisted early evacuation, telling Civil Protection Unit teams that they will go once it starts raining while others want to move in with their relatives living in safe areas.

Mr Seenza said the evacuations were taking place under strict Covid-19 protocols including temperature screening, sanitisation and wearing of face masks, to avoid causing another potential disaster.

Government has availed fuel worth $700 000 while development partners, private companies and church organisations, have also chipped in with help.

Mr Seenza said their teams continue to raise awareness among the people on the possible dangers posed by the anticipated tropical storm, considering that the province had already experienced heavy rains this season in areas such as Nyanga, Chimanimani and Chipinge, and the water table is high.

“If we get more rains from the tropical depression, we might experience mudslides, landslides and of course flooding of some rivers. We have moved some already internally displaced people; 54 people to St Patricks and 64 people to Mutambara,” he said.

“Those are not the only ones, as I speak to you now, there is a bus in Chimanimani on standby waiting to evacuate those that have had second thoughts.

“We have established 464 evacuation centres in the province and these were identified by the District Civil Protection Unit in conjunction with other stakeholders.”

Water and sanitation services have also been provided at the evacuation sites.

Mr Seenza said eight command centres have been set up in Manicaland, with TelOne moving in to establish telephone communications for easy of communication.

Government, development partners, private companies and church organisations are also providing food and non-food items but more resources are being mobilised. The Herald