A new dam being built on the Tokwe river in the Masvingo area of Zimbabwe is close to bursting as water from heavy rains is finding its way through gaps in the uncompleted dam wall.
The Tokwe Mukorsi dam was due to be completed at the end of last year but the deadline has passed with construction still not finished. Pictures from the area show water gushing through breaks in the wall and a huge build up of water in the reservoir behind it. Villagers have been evacuated as quickly as possible, with around 4,000 people believed to be at risk should the dam burst.
According to the Daily News, the Zimbabwe Air Force is helping people evacuate. The Minister for Masvingo province is quoted as saying that the government is on high alert and "A helicopter from the AFZ has been airlifting some families who were marooned by the floods but we are not yet sure how many people are still marooned."
Construction of the dam began in 1998 but stalled in 2008. An Italian company has been brought in to continue with the work which was to provide irrigation for the fertile areas of Triangle and Mazoe and also hydro-electric power. If the wall does collapse, huge swathes of Masvingo Province will be devastated with a large area of rich agricultural land and the Gona re Zhou wildlife reserve in the direct path of the water. Reports say that the Italian engineers were faced with all kinds of problems when they took over and have struggled to try and get the dam up to the necessary standard.
Opposition leaders blame government bungling for the crisis with Eddie Cross, member for MDC-T Bulawayo South reported as saying that if the government had heeded the advice given by the engineers brought in from Italy, the crisis would have been averted.
News of the flood, which began on Tuesday February 4 is only now filtering out to the wider world through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. The people of Zimbabwe are still in the dark as to what exactly is happening and whether or not the dam wall will hold.
New photos are emerging of the damage to the dam wall , taken today February 9, showing that a large section of the dam wall has fallen out. Engineers are working to try and prevent the dam from failing completely, unleashing thousands of tons of water.
Update 2Link to a video on Face Book showing the continuing damage to the wall and the water pouring over and through it.