Mozambique: Uncontrolled Bush Fires Kill Four

Mozambique: Uncontrolled Bush Fires Kill Four

3 September 2008

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Mozambique — At least four people have died, victims of uncontrolled bush fires, in Amatongas, in Gondola district, in the central Mozambican province of Manica on Monday.

The victims, who were burned to ashes, are one elderly woman and her three grandchildren, who were caught unawares by the advancing flames.

The mother of the three children is reported missing. It is unclear whether she escaped, but by late Monday afternoon there was no sign of her.

The fire destroyed about 30 houses, leaving 200 people homeless and with all their property, fruit trees, domestic animals, barns of maize, all lost to the blaze. The fire also destroyed four classrooms and three houses for local teachers.

The bush fire was worsened by the strong winds blowing in the area that created clouds of dust and smoke that even affected the provincial capital, Chimoio, about 25 kilometres away.

Gondola district administrator Catarina Diniz, who visited Amatongas, said that the bush fires had worsened over the previous 24 hours because of the strong winds.

Manica provincial governor Mauricio Vieira, accompanied by deputies of the Assmbly of the Republic, the Mozambican parliament, who were working in neighbouring Sofala province, also visited the place and presented their condolences to the victims, promising to lend all the necessary support.

Vieira also called an emergency meeting of the Gondola district government to design a strategy to deal with the situation in terms of support for the victims. The meeting decided to create a commission to this effect, headed by the Gondola provincial director of women’s affairs and social welfare, Helena da Gloria, who made available tents and food for the victims as recommended by the provincial government.

Most bush fires are started deliberately, either to clear land for planting, or by poachers to smoke out wild animals.

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