FOUR children from the same family died after being struck by lightning on Monday afternoon as heavy rains which began on Sunday pounded most parts of Zimbabwe, leaving a trail of destruction.
Several urban centres were also plunged into darkness after the torrential rains destroyed electricity infrastructure.National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday told NewsDay that they were still compiling data on the damage caused by the rains.NewsDay has gathered that four children from the same family were struck by lightning while sleeping in Wadzenenga village under Chief Nyashanu in Buhera, Manicaland province.
Their mother, Ever Mutamba (31), survived, but one of her legs was severely scorched by the lightning bolt. The deceased’s uncle, Shadreck Madamombe identified the victims as Mavis Hara (11), Melinda Hara (9), Michael Hara (4) and Milford Hara (2).
“Their mother managed to crawl out and alerted other villagers who came to the rescue. Unfortunately, the four succumbed to their injuries and died on the spot,” Madamombe said.
The deceased’s mother reportedly did not realise that tragedy had struck until she saw her leg on fire.“She cried for help and we rushed there to rescue them, but it was too late because the four were already dead. We did not manage to remove the three burnt bodies from the house. We only removed one of the bodies before the flames overwhelmed us,” he said, adding that the police attended the scene yesterday morning.
The family buried the children yesterday afternoon at their paternal home in the same district.
In Bulawayo, a number of power outages were reported and several incidents of damaged property recorded in Emganwini, Nketa, Tshabalala, Lobengula, Magwegwe, Emhlangeni and Thokozani flats, Mzilikazi.
The heavy rains coupled with lightning, hailstorms and strong winds hit the city on Monday evening and plunged many suburbs into darkness. Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company Western Region general manager Lloyd Jaji said electricity had been restored in some of the suburbs.“This was due to the storm that happened last night (Monday). Electricity has been restored in some suburbs. I am out of town, I will have to find out which suburbs have been affected,” he said.
In the Midlands province, torrential rains accompanied by a hailstorm pounded Chirumanzu-Zibagwe constituency and Kwekwe, destroying houses and classroom blocks.
Chirumanzu-Zibagwe legislator, Jacob Chokururama, said affected families had their food reserves destroyed by the rains.
“It’s quite a disaster here and the civil protection unit is on the ground assessing the damage,” said Chokururama, adding that more than 30 families were affected.
“Not only were the houses destroyed, but food stocks in terms of maize grain and other food items were also washed away.”
A classroom block was destroyed at Chishuku Secondary School in ward 16, while another had its roof blown off. An emergency committee to mobilise blankets, food and temporary shelter for the affected families has since been established.
In Mbizo, Kwekwe, some houses had their roofs blown off during the heavy rains.
In Mashonaland West, Chinhoyi residents woke up to heavy rains yesterday which damaged property, particularly at Alpha Collegewhere roofs of some classroom blocks were ripped off.
Meteorological Services Department head of forecasting, James Ngoma, said: “In terms of floods, we are not expecting any because in order for floods to occur, the downpour of rain must be heavy and raining every day.”
Meanwhile, secretary in the Lands, Agriculture and Water ministry Obert Jiri said the heavy rains did not signal the start of the summer cropping season.
“Farmers are discouraged from planting unless they have adequate irrigation. Unless a farmer has access to facilities, no crop planting is advisable until the moisture content is in the acceptable range,” Jiri said.