Thousands at risk as rains strain Zimbabwe dam - government

HARARE Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:37am EST

HARARE Feb 12 (Reuters) - Cash-strapped Zimbabwe asked for international aid on Wednesday to evacuate thousands of families threatened by a dam it feared could burst following torrential rains.

Authorities said they had only managed to move 36 families out of 2,230 in immediate danger, warning any break in the Tokwe-Mukorsi dam could flood tens of thousands of other people downstream.

Zimbabwe was asking for $20 million from foreign donors, Local Government and Public Works Minister Ignatius Chombo told Reuters.

"We have 20,000 people within the dam basin and another 40,000 who are downstream who are all at risk of flooding," he added.

Tokwe-Mukorsi is in the semi-arid southern Masvingo region but the area has received higher than normal rains this year.

The International Organisation for Migration, a relief agency, has pitched in with tents and blankets while Namibia is providing three helicopters for evacuating the villagers.

The flood situation would be discussed at a cabinet meeting in Harare on Wednesday, Chombo said. (Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Ed Stoddard and Andrew Heavens)

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