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Rocks from mountain crush huts in Zimbabwe

Thirty-year-old Chipo Dhliwayo was sleeping in her hut when the devastating Cyclone Idai landfall rolled huge boulders over whole villages in Zimbabwe’s Chimanimani district in Manicaland province last week.

Her husband had already rushed to rescue his parents who stayed a short distance from his homestead after rain started flooding houses.

Several other villagers were simply buried under massive landslides, community members say.

When Dhliwayo’s husband returned to his homestead, huge boulders had already levelled one of his huts.

Dhliwayo was wailing and yelling for help; her agony and despair heightened because her three children were still in the hut that had been brought down by boulders and stones.

“Rocks came from the mountain and crushed our hut; my in-laws’ house was the first to be destroyed. When our hut fell, my husband had gone to help my in-laws,” said Dhliwayo, as Zimbabwe military helicopters with aid and relief arrived at the worst affected areas of Chimanimani days after the tragedy.

“I had three children that were sleeping in the house and I managed to rescue only my six-month-old child on my own before my husband arrived back.

“When he got back, I was crying and trying to move some of the rocks covering our hut to rescue our four-year-old kid, who survived. But the other child did not come out alive; he died in the hut, trapped under large stones,” she said.

The area had been unreachable for three days, with roads and bridges destroyed.

Even military helicopters could not reach the area because of worse weather conditions.

Dark clouds, heavy rains and mist characterised the aftermath of Cyclone Idai’s landfall.

Dhliwayo’s plight was echoed by other villagers and survivors who woke up to find their neighbours’ houses covered by mud and rocks.

So far, according to the government, 189 people have lost their lives, but the body count is not over and villagers fear that the final tally will probably double.

After visiting affected areas, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Thursday that “the human toll is likely to reach several hundreds”.

He said: “The horrific tragedy is likely to stay on in our memories for years to come.”

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa also visited the area and criticised Mnangagwa for not responding more swiftly to the tragedy.
Source – City Press
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