A national disaster management team was sent to a small town near the epicentre of Mozambique’s earthquake today to evaluate the damage caused by a quake that killed four people, injured 27 and destroyed more than 100 homes yesterday.
The US Geological Survey said the quake struck yesterday with a magnitude of 7.5 – one capable of widespread, heavy damage – and was centred 140 miles southwest of Beira.
It shook buildings in Beira and Maputo as well as the Zimbabwean cities of Masvingo and Mutare.
It awoke people hundreds of miles away in four southern African countries, as far away as Durban on South Africa’s Indian Ocean coast.
Thousands of residents fled their homes and slept in the open, fearful as five aftershocks rocked the region. Many slept on footpaths in front of their homes for a second night yesterday, saying they still were scared.
President Armando Guebuza called on people to return to their homes today and remain calm. He also appealed for donations.
But the sense of despair and shock in Espungabera, a small town near the Zimbabwean border, was overwhelming.
“I was sleeping when the thing happened. I saw everything in my house shaking, including my wife and children,” said Panda Maria.
“I and my wife grabbed our four children, and rushed to outside, as the house was collapsing,” he told Mozambique Television.
His family escaped serious injury but lost all their possessions.
Baby and adult clothes were lay scatered in the debris of the collapsed buildings.
The National Institute for Disasters Management said its team would evaluate the scale of the damage caused by the quake in order to channel food and other assistance to the victims.
Local authorities also rushed to provide victims with food, domestic utensils, sheets, blankets, and other items.
The local district clinic said it was unable to cope with the additional medical demands because of lack of medicines and so sent people needing treatment to the Chimoio provincial hospital.
Mozambique, which is still recovering from a long civil war, is one of the world’s poorest countries.