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One dead as storm batters Bulawayo, Midlands

A huge tree that fell on a house in the Masasa Park suburb in Kwekwe

ONE person died in Gokwe following heavy rains accompanied by strong winds and thunderstorms, which also left a trail of destruction in several parts of the country, including Bulawayo and the Midlands province.

Bulawayo was plunged into darkness on Monday evening while wheat farmers in Umguza and Bubi districts including other parts of the country were left counting losses after their crops were destroyed.

In Gokwe, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works reported that one person died after he was struck by lightning.

In some suburbs such as Mzilikazi and Queens Park, residents had roofs of their houses blown off while street lights were brought down. The violent storm uprooted trees resulting in some of them falling onto houses and damaging the roofing sheets, perimeter walls and window panes.

A Chronicle news crew yesterday moved around the city’s selected suburbs and observed that some houses were extensively damaged.

In Mzilikazi, some residents at Thokozani Flats were also affected after their roofs were blown off rendering the families homeless.

Some of the affected people had to seek temporary shelter from their neighbours.

One of the affected residents, Ms Gladys Chikore, said it was a distressing experience as they witnessed the destruction of part of the roof of their house.

“I was busy watching television when it started raining heavily, and the next thing there was a thunderous sound which was followed by a hailstorm. It was like someone was throwing stones on top of the roof and the asbestos roofing cracked and the debris fell inside the house, but fortunately no one was injured,” she said.

In Queens Park East and West, some residents who spoke to the Chronicle said they witnessed roofs being blown off, while some said huge tree branches fell on the roofs and damaged the roofing sheets.

“Some of these houses are old and cannot withstand the strong winds and heavy downpour. There are two houses that were badly affected, one of which had a tree branch falling on it, while the other had part of its roof blown off,” said Mr Wallace Hungwe from Queens Park East.

“The people that live in that house are so lucky to be alive because some of the debris fell inside.”

In Sauerstown, the news crew encountered a huge tree lying over a security fence while several tree branches could be seen strewn all over streets with tangling electricity power lines.

This block of flats in Soshangane in Nguboyenja, Bulawayo had its roof blown away.

In Harrisville suburb, a resident was left counting losses after his solar geyser was blown off by the strong winds.

In the Midlands, some families in Kwekwe cheated death after the roofs of their houses were damaged by trees that had fallen on them. The city was also plunged into darkness and by yesterday power had not been restored in some residential areas such as Msasa, Chicago, Mbizo, Amaveni, and Redcliff.

“True, we have several poles down and we are still assessing the impact of the storm. But, we are working flat out to ensure power is restored,” said ZETDC southern regional manager Engineer Gibson Kasipo. 

In Gokwe North, District Development Coordinator Mr Martin Musakanda said the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) rescued three people who were injured.

“We rescued three people including two minors aged 15 and five years who were injured after their houses collapsed. We will give a detailed report as we make further assessments,” he said.

In a statement yesterday, the director of communications and advocacy in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, Mr Gabriel Masvora said they received reports of damages caused by the thunderstorms following the onset of the 2023/2024 rainfall season. 

He said Government has since activated all civil protection structures at the national and subnational levels in light of the heavy rains being recorded across the country.

“Damages to houses and social amenities infrastructure have been reported in some parts of the country on Monday night. We have an incident where one person died in Gokwe as a result of the storm,” said Mr Masvora.

He said rapid needs assessments are being done to ascertain immediate interventions required. 

“Government has activated all civil protection structures at national and sub-national level. Most of the tents that had been prepositioned in Beitbridge in anticipation of receiving returnees from South Africa will be used to provide temporary accommodation for households affected by rainfall-induced incidents.” 

Mr Masvora said the National Multi-Hazard Contingency Plan is the blue-print that is guiding the country’s national response to rainfall-induced incidents

“Relief in the form of food and non-food items is being distributed to affected households across the country while partners are being engaged to complement Government efforts.” he said.

Chronicle

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