- The strong earthquake that rocked Mozambique last week seems to have made more damage than initially believed. At least four persons were killed, and reports from southern Mozambique indicate that several buildings and infrastructure also was severely damaged by the incident. The Maputo government now ask for international help.
After an earthquake rocked this Southern African nation last week and left at least four people dead, the Mozambican government has asked the United Nations for technical support to better manage risks and disasters, the UN's relief coordination unit said today.
The UN has mobilised two helicopters to help officials in northern Gaza Province and southern Manica Province assess the damage from last Thursday's earthquake, which registered 7.5 on the Richter scale, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Initial assessments of the damage indicate that four people were killed and 36 injured. By now, it is also clear that at least 288 houses, six schools, a water tank, three water points and two small bridges were destroyed.
Central and local Mozambican authorities have already started addressing the humanitarian aspect of the earthquake. Resources available in the country will primarily be used for families' most pressing needs, including food, water, sanitation and shelter. To address the large-scale destructions on buildings and infrastructure, however, Mozambique today said aid was needed from the international society.
Thursday's earthquake came as a relative surprise as strong tremors are seldom incidents in the region. The large quake had its epicentre 10 kilometres below the surface in Mozambique's western Manica province. Tremors were felt in much parts of Mozambique, in eastern Zimbabwe and some parts of South Africa.
While this southern African region is relatively unused to earthquakes, central Mozambique lies at the southern tip of the East African Rift, which runs from the Red Sea through Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique. The rift is much more active further north.
The Greater Rift Valley has not been especially active during the last decades. It experienced a period of strong activity - earthquakes and volcanism - during the 1950s. Since that, only sporadic earthquake of a damaging dimension have occurred. With the recent large quake on the Congolese-Tanzanian border and last week's record quake in Mozambique, there are fears that the Great Rift may be entering a new period of great activity.
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