Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tongwa landslide update

Just thought I would forward this to you. This is about a village in the remote northern area of Zambia. This fellow, Alan Rise, has been emailing us in hopes that we will use some area initiative money to ship a container that he is filling to the village. He apparently built the school and clinic there for the village. Now that his has happened I don't know what he will want to do. Our superior in SA says we can help with the shipping if we want but he doesn't really think it is something we need to do. We were feeling that way too as it would take 1/3 of our initiative budget ($15,000) to ship the container. This emergency will likely change his plans somewhat -- OR I suppose he could want to get the container there even more so.



This is the report I just received from the local missionary in Tongwa about the disaster.The pictures are from the and around the clinic area. I am still waiting for the pictures of the school.
Report From Lewis Musonda on situation in Tongwa:

On Sunday morning, 21 February, between 4 and 5am, there was a flash flood through Tongwa and a large landslide in the village of Kalala. Thankfully no one was killed in Tongwa and there were only one or two minor injuries, but in Kalala eight people were killed and their homes crushed with huge rocks. Here are the details about these two situations. There had been many heavy rains up on the plateau. The rivers had been flooded there, and on the 21st, the water came down in a wall of water over 2 meters high. The water came down the small streams and joined into the stream that goes through Tongwa to the lake. The water brought many stones
with it and was too much to fit in the stream. The water flowed over the banks and rushed around behind the school and through the village past the headman’s house and around the clinic. Lewis was awake in the night before the flash flood occurred because of the heavy rain and thunder and lightning.

Right before the flood, a fisherman went to try to get his big fishing net out of his boat. He was at the boat when the flash flood came through and the boat was thrown on top of him. Thankfully he was able to swim down under it and escape, but the boat and net were lost. The fishing inspectors from Mpulungu were in Tongwa at the time and their boat with a 40 horsepower engine was also lost. Some people were able to pick up fish from the water that were brought down the mountain by the flood. The stream where the people in Tongwa collected their drinking water was expanded to several meters deep and is now filled with many stones that came down from the mountain. At the mouth of the stream, there is now a ridge of stones. The water is very muddy, but the people have no option but to still drink from it. For the first several days the stream was so wide and deep that no one could cross and they had to take a small boat from one side of the village to the other. The water eroded away the land several meters down
right next to the school. Now there remains only one meter of ground between the school and the drop off into the stream. The school has a large crack through the front and back walls and the floor. The clinic is standing, but the ground around it has been washed away by the water. The headman’s house was partially washed away on the first day and has now collapsed completely.

Several other houses and toilets have also completely collapsed. On that Sunday, the water continued running through the village until around 10 in the morning and the rains continued up until 12. The people were running around very afraid and not knowing what to do. Even up to now the people are afraid to sleep in their houses at night if it is raining for fear another flood will come and their houses will collapse on top of them. The children are in danger because they play on the edges of the areas where the water made valleys and these cliff edges are ready to collapse. These are on the sides of the stream and the sides of the path the water took through the village – around the back of the school and by the headman’s house and the clinic.

The headman went to Mpulungu to talk to the DC on that Sunday the 21st. Government officials have visited Kalala, the place where people were killed by the landslide and some have visited Tongwa. There were rumors that the government would chase the people from Tongwa because it is not safe, but Lewis spoke to the DC and it is not true. But the fishermen are not fishing now because they are afraid of what will happen in the village while they are gone. The school is also closed. Many people are saying that the cause of this disaster was witchcraft. The government promised tents and food to those who had lost their homes, but none have been provided yet. Many people lost food, and the water is very bad to drink. Some also lost cash that was washed
away in the storm. In Kalala village, next to Tongwa, the side of the village was built in a valley. The houses that were built here were completely crushed by a huge landslide. It is like a road of rocks now, leading from the mountain down to the lake. Stones as big as houses came down and crushed all the trees and homes. Eight people died including a pregnant woman and her unborn baby. The others were two men and three children. The men were from a nearby village and were there for fishing.

These people were the only ones staying there where the landslide happened, there were no survivors. Now you cannot even see that houses had been there. You can see large trunks of trees lying on top of and under the rocks. Teams of men have gone there to try to retrieve the bodies, but even with dynamite they are unable to find them.

My wife and I are still trying to assess the damages to the school but it does not look good at this point. Depending on the outcome we may be looking for volunteers right away to go fix the school or to build a new one. If you would like to come or donate to this project please let me know.

Thank you, Alan Riser

1 comment:

  1. WOw. So many natural disasters are occurring now all over the world. It sure is the signs of the times. Maybe it just seems like a lot more is happening because we are able to hear about it more often with modern technology like we have.

    Did you know that Quebec had an earthquake on Sunday? It was only a 3 on the scale, but still......

    Thanks so much for sharing all the news about the area you are in and around you. I find it all so very interesting.

    I will let you know when Colby gets his mission call. It is on it's way.