Journal of an earthquake: Tremors shake Mozambique,
Feb. 24, 2006
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earthquake registering 7.5 on the Richter scale hit
Mozambique and Zimbabwe Feb. 23. The following is an edited journal account from
Ezequiel Nhantumbo, Mozambique Initiative representative in the United Methodist
Church’s Mozambique Area. Nhantumbo, a graduate of Africa University, recorded
events immediately after the quake.
By Ezequiel Nhantumbo*
MAPUTO, Mozambique (UMNS) — Earthquakes are not a common phenomenon here.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake that hit overnight
registered 7.5 on the Richter scale. Two people were killed in farming villages
near the epicenter. Mostly, people fled from shaking buildings in the cities and
were just plain scared.
2:45 a.m. 23 Feb. : It was the very first time Mozambique experienced an
earthquake of such magnitude. It hit Sofala Manica, Inhambane, Gaza and Maputo.
The first shaking of great impact occurred around 3 a.m. and lasted at least 33
seconds, and the second followed around 4 a.m. with less intensity.
Panic was generated everywhere. There are reports of fallen houses,
especially in Manica, at the epicenter, near the border with Zimbabwe. People
could not sleep in their homes for fear that many more times this would happen
and with high intensity. Rumors are everywhere, some indicating that we are
still expecting one more round this morning.
The tall buildings shook, windows cracked, items fell down and light bulbs
blasted. People are now returning to their homes this morning, and some will not
show up at their working place.
|A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose
Ezequiel “Ezy” Nhantumbo is coordinator for the Missouri Initiative in Mozambique.
Electricity was cut in Beira followed by heavy rains soon after the first
quake. I called Jacob Jenhuro in Beira, director of the council on ministries
for the North Mozambique Annual Conference; the Rev. Anastacio Chembeze, pastor
of Beira Central United Methodist Church; and Joao Damiao Elias, bishop’s
assistant, who reported no casualties so far. Rev. Chembeze reported
considerable damages in the house, but no one was hurt. The same thing happened
at Chicuque Mission, Morrumbene, Xai-Xai and Maputo, where this was felt in high
intensity by the residents.
I called my father soon after the first shaking, and he said panic had also
been generated at home and in the neighborhood. He felt the earth moving; the
house shook, including the bed in the bedrooms, and his granddaughter was
unconscious for some minutes. She has now recovered, thanks to God.
We also felt it, but with minor intensity.
We have no experience in this situation, and the uncertainty is high
precisely because we lack experts in this area in the country. One private TV
station did a tremendous job, calming people and instructing on what to do if
another event occurs. It is said that Harare, Zimbabwe, and Durban, South
Africa, were also hit by this phenomenon. I will provide more if something
5:24 a.m. 23 Feb.: Balance of damages: 2 deaths and 28 injured.
8:35 a.m. 23 Feb.: Bishop Joao Somane
Machado is grateful for concerns and prayers and writes, “Thanks be to God, we
are well.” (Machado is out of the country at this time; this message received
through Thomas Kemper, Germany Annual Conference.)
8:50 a.m. 23 Feb.: Maria Helena Feluane, Mozambique Episcopal Office,
reports damages in the central and southern parts of the country: For example,
here in the office, some computers and other gadgets went off because of the
electricity oscillation. We were all in panic. Most of us could not sleep since
that time, without knowing what to do, but now we are calm. PRAISE THE LORD.
Thank you for your concern and prayers. May the Lord bless us all.
|A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert
The quake caused some equipment problems in the Mozambique Episcopal Office, according to staffer Maria Helena Feluane.
9:25 a.m. 23 Feb.: Antonio Jacob, at United Methodist-related Chicuque
Rural Hospital, reports: We are safe! No damage, no injury in Chicuque. We did
not know in advance, so most of the people like me were sleeping, and when that
happened ? it was like dreaming being in airplane ... Thank you very much for
your concern. It is amazing.
2:34 a.m. 24 Feb.: Rev. Chembeze reports: I just want to let you know
that I got a phone call from Africa University (in Mutare, Zimbabwe) saying that
they also felt heavily the effects. I think it was because of the distance from
the epicenter of the whole thing. It is true that it was felt as well in Harare
and Durban. Fortunately we are all fine and safe. We give thanks to God for
keeping us and granting us the opportunity to witness the wonders of the
May God hold our sisters and brothers in Mozambique in God’s arms.
Messages of caring can be sent through Mozambique Initiative representative
Ezequiel Nhantumbo in Maputo at
Council on Ministries Director Jacob Jenhuro in Beira at
Bishop Machado at
email@example.com; or Jeremias Franca at Chicuque Rural