Namibia helicopters rescue flood victims

THE Namibia Defence Force’s -Air Force (NDF) has sent three of its helicopters to Zimbabwe after appeals from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to assist with airlifting marooned families affected by flooding at Tokwe-Murkosi in Masvingo.

By Wongai Zhangazha

Zimbabwe’s airforce has been hard hit by sanctions and an arms embargo by the West and is thus unable to import spares for its aging aircraft fleet. NDF public relations officer Petrus Shilumbu said “the heavy rainfall experienced in the Republic of Zimbabwe have prompted the Government of Zimbabwe to request assistance from the Republic of Namibia.

“In response to that request the Republic of Namibia has authorised the Namibian Defence Force’s Air Force to send three of its helicopters to the Republic of Zimbabwe in order to assist with airlifting marooned families at Tokwe-Murkosi Basin in Masvingo Province.

“The NDF has sent one Z-9 and two Allouette III helicopters with six pilots and seven technicians. This came as amatter of urgency following the nonstop rainfall of more than 850mm, which led to the rise of water levels at a rate of l,8m per day,” wrote Shilumbu yesterday.

The Nambian Air Force said its helicopters will evacuate about 63 families and their households who are in danger.

This week Zimbabwe’s bankrupt government appealed for US$20 million from the international community to urgently evacuate, relocate, shelter and provide safe water and other basic needs to 60 000 people affected by the floods in the Tokwe-Murkosi basin.