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Teams out to assess extent of earthquake damage

Map of Mozambique IRIN
The country's poverty reduction programme has received support from the World Bank
Mozambican authorities and aid agencies are scrambling to assess the damage of last week's 7.5 magnitude earthquake. "Mozambique suffers regularly from floods, drought and other natural disasters but an earthquake is something you cannot anticipate or prepare for fully," Chris Kaye, Regional Representative of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told IRIN. The Mozambique Council of Ministers held an emergency meeting on Thursday, the day the earthquake struck the centre of the country, leaving four people dead, 36 injured and 288 families homeless. According to OCHA, a subsequent technical meeting under the chairmanship of the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC) dispatched assessment teams to the affected areas in Gaza, Manica, Sofala and Tete provinces, assisted by two helicopters provided by the United Nations. The Ministry of Public Works also sent teams to assess potential damage to large infrastructure, such as bridges and dams, while local civil engineers have been mobilised in several cities to check buildings for possible damage. "The information on damage to large infrastructure is still pending. Major bridges and dams have been inspected, and so far there has been no particular indication of serious damage," said Jean-Luc Tonglet, humanitarian affairs officer with the OCHA Regional Office for Southern Africa. OCHA said the most pressing needs were food, water, sanitation and shelter for the people made homeless by the quake, which was felt as far away as neighbouring South Africa and Zimbabwe. "Since the floods in 2002 the UN has been very committed to supporting the INGC in full recognition of the important role they play in disaster preparedness. This again has been demonstrated by the earthquake," Kaye commented. Tonglet said the government and UN contingency plans would be revised to include earthquake scenarios. "The government is also preparing a public awareness campaign in relation to earthquakes, to explain what people should do during and after an event." There has been a history of earthquakes in Mozambique, "but because the last few decades have been quiet, earthquakes are no longer in the common memory," Tonglet remarked.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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