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Hundreds of Shacks Destroyed in Cape Town Fire

Homes were destroyed by fire and fuelled by strong winds in Masiphumelele on December 17, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa.



Hundreds of homes were destroyed by an evening fire fuelled by strong winds in Masiphumelele in the south of Cape Town, South Africa.

The devastating fire ripped through the area, destroying over a thousand homes in the informal settlement and leaving scores of people destitute.

Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Service spent hours trying to put out the fire. An initial count indicated that about 1,000 dwellings had been gutted by the fire.

The fire services’ spokesperson Jermaine Carelse said the team was alerted to plumes of thick black smoke in the area at around 4 pm.

The team from Kommetjie road quickly responded to the fire, which was “fanned by strong winds and spreading at an alarming rate”. Eight fire-fighting appliances, as well as helicopters, were deployed to combat the fire.

Although helicopters deployed were grounded in the late afternoon due to gale-force winds. Choppers and spotter planes water-bombed the area with no damage to property. 

He added that the blaze was put out at 1am on Friday.

The city’s statement said beyond containing the fire, it is no longer able to offer required relief materials like flood kits due to said to national government budget cuts.

The statement further stated that Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato, “will declare a local disaster within the next 72 hours”

In response, volunteers and rescue teams along with community members are clearing the site of debris left in the wake of the fire in the informal settlement.

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Tropical Storm Eloise: Weather Service Publishes Updates



Tropical storm Eloise made a landfall on Tuesday across the North-East of Madagascar bringing gusty winds & heavy rain. Eloise has weakened but is forecast to escalate as it exits the west coast and heads into the Mozambique Channel towards Southern Mozambique later this week.

At the moment, Eloise is currently considered as a Moderate Tropical Storm, with a central pressure less than 1000 hPa (hectopascal). It is however set to intensify in the coming days into a cyclone.

In December, Cyclone Chalane hit parts of Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Weather experts say South Africa may experience heavy rains over the next few days.  The storm is expected to reach the Kingdom of Eswatini this weekend, with strong winds and heavy rainfall making its way from Mozambique.

South African Meteorologist Francois Engelbrecht forecasts severe winds and flooding. 

“Right now, for South Africa, if the storm is going to follow this track into Southern Mozambique and then towards our eastern escarpment in the North East, some parts of our Limpopo province and then southwards along the escarpment in Mpumalanga all the way to Swaziland, these areas [are] getting 100mm of rainfall on Sunday and Monday.”

Engelbrecht said rains of up to 200mm in certain areas indicate a high chance of flooding.

After making a landfall, Eloise is expected to push further south-westwards towards South Africa and Mozambique. Extreme rain is expected over southern Mozambique, eastern Lowveld, escarpment of Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces as well as Northern KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa up until Monday 25th January.

Against this backdrop, the South African Weather Service (SAWS) warns that possible impacts of these rains may include general flooding, damage to road infrastructure, bridges and possible displacements of affected communities.

SAWS relying on modern satellite remote sensing as well as advanced ensemble numeric modelling techniques will continue to closely monitor and make further timely updates to the public.

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Conservation News

Egypt’s Asmarat Alternative Housing to Receive Dozens of Families

Asmarat is receiving over 130 slum-dwelling families in fully-furnished buildings, offering succour to underprivileged women, children and the physically challenged.



Over 130 families and former residents of Sayeda Aicha neighbourhoods have started arriving at Asmarat social housing due to fears of collapse of their buildings.  

Cairo municipal authority has marked 47 buildings for demolition and has bulldozed 31 buildings used sheltering 35 families.

Asmarat is offers alternative housing to slum dwellers. The current occupants of its fully-furnished buildings were formerly resident in shanties of Qaleat Al Kabsh, Al Mawardy, Ezbet Khair Allah, Mansheyet Nasser Maspero Triangle among others.

Head of Asmarat Municipal Authority Hassan al-Ghandour said its alternative housing project plans to collaborate with Orman Charity Organization to exempt widows, divorced women, and the disabled persons from paying LE3600 annual rent.

Ghandour explained that the neighborhood is of a great interest to the political leadership and that Cairo governor visits the place weekly. He added that the neighborhood is home to several factories that secure 1,400 jobs to women paying them LE3,500 as income salary and offering paid internships at LE1,000.

The third phase of the project also includes a football pitch, four multi-purpose playgrounds, two swimming pools, a social building, a garden for children, four nurseries, four health units, a car mark that can hold up to 1,000 cars. Also, a mosque, a church and an automatic bakery production line will be established.

Social Solidarity Minister Nevin Al-Qabbaj explained last year that 13.6 percent of Asmarat families have female breadwinners with one in every two family having more than four members most of whom have unstable and irregular jobs.

Egypt’s Minister of Finance Mohamed Ma’it said in July last year that the country plans to implement 100,000 housing units during fiscal year of 2020/2021, in addition to planning to complete 105,000 units in 2021/2022.

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East Africa News

Storm Chalane: Death toll rises to 7 in Mozambique

The three new fatalities in Mozambique were recorded in Chimoio, the capital of Manica province capital, and were all caused by drowning.



The death toll caused by tropical storm Chalane in central Mozambique has risen from four to seven, according to Mozambique’s National Calamities Management Institute (INGC).

The storm has passed through Madagascar and Zimbabwe.

The three new fatalities in Mozambique were recorded in Chimoio, the capital of Manica province capital, and were all caused by drowning.

The first four were in the provinces of Sofala and Manica where there was one death each, and in Zambézia where two people lost their lives.

The storm has left at least 10 people injured in Sofala, Manica and Zambézia, and several houses destroyed and a total of 36,000 people affected.

On Sunday, the country’s President Filipe Nyusi asked the public to abandon risky zones as the storm approached the country. His warning came after a meeting with INGC personnel. 

The National Calamities Management Institute did earlier forecasted that four million people will be affected and more than 6,000 schools and 550 health facilities in risky zones damaged.

In March and April 2019, cyclone Idai, with its epicentre at the port of Beira, the country’s second-largest city, and cyclone Kenneth, hit Mozambique just few weeks apart.

Both cyclones are the worst natural disasters recorded in the country in the last two decades.

Hitting the northern provinces of Cabo Delgado and Nampula, Cyclone Kenneth affected more than 400,000 people.

At least 1000 people died in Mozambique in 2019, due to the cyclones.

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