The South African military deployment to the flood-ravaged areas of Mozambique has been boosted by another helicopter.
SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Joint Operations spokesman, Captain (SAN) Jaco Theunissen, said following a reconnaissance mission a third helicopter would now also form part of the 14 day mission.
“An Agusta A109 from 17 Squadron will join the pair of 19 Squadron Oryx medium transport helicopters in the airborne command and control role.
“I can also confirm, following a planning meeting at Joint Operations after the return of the reconnaissance mission, that six Navy rescue swimmers will go to Mozambique.
“The first priority of those deployed will be to save lives by getting people away from danger and the second priority will be to move the elderly, pregnant, frail and other people at risk to places where they will be safe and on the receiving end of proper care,” he said.
The deployment will total about 170 airmen, divers and medics.
Mozambican authorities have since last week been warning resident of low-lying areas to evacuate after rainfall in excess of 200 mm in a few days. Reports have it that eight people have drowned and 18 children are apparently missing in Mocuba.
On Monday, water from Licungo River in Mocuba flooded the bridge above it, stranding hundreds of vehicles on both sides. The same situation is also taking place at Lugela River in the same province. Water has flooded the river banks, destroying planted land.
The Mozambican government’s Disaster Management Technical Council (CTGC) says it has activated an “Institutional Orange Alert” across the country, in light of continued heavy rains and the danger of serious flooding.
With the Zambezia deaths, the number dead from floods nationwide now stands at 12 with eight having died in disasters in the northern port city of Nacala.
The number of houses destroyed or damaged in Nacala stands at nearly 3 000. Taking the country as a whole, the number of households affected by the torrential rains was more than 9 500.
Meanwhile, the National Meteorology Institute (INAM) has warned that in the coming week, rainfall of up to 300 millimetres could fall along the northern coast (the coastal strip of Zambezia, Nampula and Cabo Delgado provinces) and in the interior’s Niassa, Nampula and Tete provinces.
Theunissen said the SANDF and by implication the South African government had not received any requests for assistance from Malawi, which has also been ravaged by flooding at the time of publication.