One person missing after flash floods

floodsElita Chikwati Senior Reporter
One person is missing while several others were rescued from inside and on top of their vehicles following floods caused by heavy rains that pounded Harare on Sunday, police said yesterday.

Other people were marooned at different points of the capital and were forced to wait for many hours for the water to subside.

This came as the Meteorological Services Department warned yesterday that a tropical cyclone was expected to hit the country starting Friday, resulting in more rains and increased risk of flooding “almost anywhere across the country”.

In Harare, police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said the missing person disappeared along Bulawayo Road near Cold Comfort.

The driver’s vehicle was discovered a few metres from the road after it is believed to have been swept away by floods.

“We are still looking for the occupant of a Toyota Corolla registration number ACK5001,” said Snr Asst Comm Charamba. “The vehicle was found abandoned with no one inside and the following valuables, Nokia and Samsung cellphones, spectacles and car keys were recovered.

“Several houses in Mabelreign, Ashdown Park, Westlea and Tynwald were also affected by rising water levels.” Snr Asst Comm Charamba said several people were rescued after being trapped by the floods.

“Godknows Marufu (38), Makariel Chinongwa (28) and Gabriel Majonga (37) were rescued at a bridge along Heaney Road after being trapped in their Toyota Raum and Nissan Sunny vehicles while trying to cross the bridge,” she said.

“Joel Tendere (23) was rescued after he took refuge on the roof of his car. Police also established that Kuwadzana Flyover had been blocked by logs and these were causing traffic congestion. The logs were removed and the area is now safe for traffic to pass.” Snr Asst Comm Charamba called on members of the public to be on high alert for floods.

“They should not cross flooded rivers, streams and bridges,” she said.

“Residents are urged to monitor the water situation and move to safe areas until the rains subside.”

Some of the significant falls recorded at meteorological stations in Harare on Sunday include Ashdown Park with 158mm, Belvedere 78mm, Logan Park 72mm and Harare International Airport 64mm.

Meteorological Services Department head of forecasting Mr Tich Zinyemba yesterday said many areas of the country were at greater risk of floods due to a pending tropical cyclone. He said heavier falls exceeding 50mm in 24 hours were highly likely over high ground, especially in areas along and to the north of the main watershed; Mashonaland provinces, Harare, Matabeleland North, north of Matabeleland South, the bulk of the Midlands and Manicaland.

“A deep low pressure system will be developing in the Mozambique channel by Friday and it is expected to intensify into a fully fledged tropical cyclone,” he said.

“The MSD will continue to monitor the developments.

“The MSD, therefore, urges responsible authorities to be aware of this possibility and prepare accordingly.”

Mr Zinyemba said they were monitoring the development of the tropical cyclone and would inform the public.

“It is too early to know the behaviour of this cyclone,” he said. “It is still in the Mozambican channel and may change and go back to the Indian Ocean. By Wednesday we will have known its behaviour.”

Mr Zinyemba said the region was under the influence of a series of low pressure systems which result in more rains. The Civil Protection Unit has urged the public to listen to daily weather updates for advice from the unit to save lives and property from the storms and floods.

CPU director Mr Madzudzo Pawadyira said the department was on high alert and encouraged the public to take note of the advice to reduce loss of lives and damage to property.

On February 22, 2000 Zimbabwe was hit by a devastating tropical cyclone (Cyclone Eline) with strong winds that affected the eastern and southern parts of the country.

The cyclone happened when some parts of the country, particularly in the Save River basin in Manicaland and the Limpopo River basin in the southern provinces of Matabeleland South and Masvingo, experienced life-threatening flooding.

At least 10 people died while hundreds others were left homeless by floods in different parts of the country last month.

Eight others died when a car they were travelling in was swept away while crossing a flooded bridge near Kadoma last month, after the driver did not take advice from other motorists to wait for the river to subside.

Malawi and Mozambique are already suffering from heavy flooding caused by the tropical cyclone.

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