Zimbabwe evacuates thousands as dam cracks amid rains

Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam under construction.
Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam under construction.

Zimbabwean authorities are evacuating thousands of people in a southern province, who are threatened by a nearby dam which partially collapsed amid torrential rains.

At least 4 000 families faced the risk of flooding, with some requiring urgent evacuation, after a wall of an upstream dam partially collapsed, officials said on Wednesday.

The Zimbabwean government has since deployed more than 20 vehicles to relocate those in danger, while also urging communities downstream the Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam in central Masvingo province to move two to five kilometers from the Tokwe River.

“At least 400 families need to be evacuated immediately and a further 4 000 would be moved in due course,” Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo said.

Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam is being built by Italian company Salini Impregilio. The project, with a cost of US $156 million, is designed to boost the drought-resistance of a region that normally receives insufficient rainfall.

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The dam wall has developed cracks and shifted slightly due to rising water levels over the past few days, media reports said. The dam is said to hold 1.8 billion cubic litres of water when it is completed.

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Zimbabwe has been receiving rare heavy rainfalls over the past week, raising the risk of flooding in low-lying areas of the country. Some families in Masvingo said their makeshift houses had collapsed in the downpour.

Masvingo’s deputy administrator Godern Chipika said the Red Cross was already on the ground, distributing tents to displaced families for temporary shelter. – SAnews.gov.za