By-The head of Bare Secondary School in Mazowe District, Mashonaland Central Province, died when a tree fell on a stationary vehicle she was sitting in.
According to the state media, an 80-year-old man has also swept away while crossing a flooded river in Gwanda District, Matabeleland South Province, as heavy rains accompanied by strong winds and thunderstorms lash most of Zimbabwe.
Both incidents occurred on Thursday following an advisory by the Meteorological Services Department and Department of Civil Protection for people to exercise extreme caution in light of heavy rains and flooding expected from yesterday to tomorrow across Zimbabwe.
Local community leaders, stretching right down to village head level, are continuing to monitor and advise people when danger threatens.
Some houses and schools have been damaged, and Bindura — which has recorded storms of above average intensity — saw the provincial hospital lose the roof of its laboratory, the fence around the Government complex flattened, and several houses losing their roofs on Thursday. The most affected provinces by yesterday were Masvingo, Mashonaland Central, Matabeleland South and parts of Manicaland and Midlands.
Matabeleland North, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Bulawayo and Harare have recorded heavy rainfall, but nothing too severe with just rivers and streams rising and some bridges being flooded.
Department of Civil Protection chief director Mr Nathan Nkomo said his office was continuing to keep in contact with those overseeing damage control, and was responding to queries from traditional chiefs and those in the provinces.
“A lot of travellers have been in touch with us so far. We had engagements with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and they have since issued a circular over Manicaland and Masvingo having strong winds and heavy rains,” he said.
“Mashonaland Central experienced strong winds and heavy rainfall which resulted in damage to property and a fatality. In Bindura’s Chiwaridzo, Garikai and Cleverhill suburbs, roofs were blown off. The provincial hospital laboratory’s roof was blown away while the fence surrounding the Government complex was razed to the ground.
“In Mazowe’s Ward 15, 16 and 23 electricity poles and trees were uprooted. In Ward 3, a tree was uprooted and fell on top of a stationary vehicle that had two occupants. One occupant, who was the head of Bare Secondary School, died on the spot while the other occupant was seriously injured and has been admitted in hospital.”
Mr Nkomo said travellers should not to cross rivers in flood and commended traditional chiefs for disseminating information to villagers. He said even when water over a bridge is shallow, it is moving fast and that exerts a strong force that will see pedestrians and vehicles being swept away.
“In Mwenenzi, Masvingo province, three houses in Ward 13 of Chingwizi area were damaged while in Zaka roofs of Muparuri Primary School in Ward 7 were blown off by the wind,” Mr Nkomo said.
The department of civil protection is erecting tents as temporary classrooms where classrooms have been damaged so that schools can re-open normally on Monday.
Mr Nkomo said most districts in Manicaland received normal rainfall although in Chiadzwa lightning struck two cows in Ward 30, Chiramba village.
In Matabeleland South, Mr Nkomo said most districts recorded normal rains except in Gwanda.
“Muchinya Primary School had its roof blown off while in Ward 19 Kafusi Primary School’s roof was also blown off by strong winds. In Mawaza village, Ward 12, an 80-year-old man was swept away and drowned while trying to cross a river in flood.”
Mr Nkomo said a number of houses were also damaged by heavy rains in Ward 17 of Simbumbu Village in Gwanda.
He said Matabeleland North and Midlands provinces saw more normal rainfall except in Zvishavane.
“Heavy rains and strong winds damaged two houses in Zvishavane’s Ward 3,” Mr Nkomo said.
He said they have not received any damage reports from Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Bulawayo and Harare provinces showing that they had received normal rainfall.
“In Harare, our assessment in Budiriro West showed that Marimba River is full and the bridge there has been submerged and we are continuously monitoring the situation there and in Chitungwiza where people are settled on wetlands,” Mr Nkomo said.
Meanwhile, Government has said it remains committed to prioritising increased disaster risk management including early warning systems and contingency planning to enhance the country’s preparedness.
Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo said regional and national early warning systems continue monitoring and advising them to foster readiness for all hazards associated with the current rainfall season.
“The Civil Protection Department continues to work with local authorities, traditional leaders, humanitarian and development partners, the private sector, faith-based organisations, communities and other stakeholders in saving lives and property.
“The Provincial and District Development Coordinators, local authorities, incorporating ward and village structures at the community level are encouraged to work hand-in-glove in disaster risk reduction, as has been the tradition.”
Minister Moyo thanked traditional leaders for being part of the Civil Protection Unit and upholding issues of spirituality by mediating for a calm rainfall season.