Fear of ghosts kept Cyclone Idai flood survivor in banks of raging river

Cyclone Idai flood survivor Regret Chihwa

By Norma Tsopo

RUSITU – Intense fear of ghosts kept a Cyclone Idai flood victim in the banks of a raging Nyahode River after surviving a 500 metre drag in its debris-laden angry flow.

Regret Chihwa had to remain in the banks of the flooded river after seeing some mysteriously glowing objects in the bank towards his only escape route – risking being washed back into the river on March 15.

Cyclone Idai flood survivor Regret Chihwa

He had suffered a broken arm after being swept away in a Mazda 323 hatchback while parked at the confluence of Nyahode and Mutandagare rivers near Machongwe waiting for the water to subside when they were swept away.

Chihwa was with his uncle Toendepi Garufu, who is still missing, and nephew Peter Murenha who was also thrown out of the river by a tide around the same area.

While Murenha braved the glowing mysterious objects that they said were like roots.

“There were things that were glowing in the edge of the river towards where I wanted to go. I was afraid that these might be ghosts so l decided to stay on the river bank until morning,” Chihwa said.

He only waited for dawn for him to make good his escape towards a homestead where he was to meet his nephew.

Search efforts have only led them to the discovery of a few parts of what used to be their vehicle.

Coming from Harare, they were a few kilometres away from their destination in Bhuroki where they were going to see some relatives.

A commuter omnibus that was coming back from Mutare with passengers was also swept away with its passengers from the same spot as well as a Honda Fit. Most of the people are still missing and presumed dead.

With the body count now slightly over 150, government has now acknowledged that the number of the dead is now over 300 as most of the people were swept away by flooded rivers.

The cyclone which dumped record rains in Chimanimani displacing over 16 000 families due to a combination of wind damage, landslides, flooding and rain damage is the region’s worst ever natural disaster.