Over 1,000 feared dead after cyclone slams into Mozambique
Saleem Samad of DOT
More than 1,000 people were feared dead in Mozambique four days after a cyclone slammed into the country, submerging entire villages and leaving bodies floating in the floodwaters, the nation’s President Filipe Nyusi. Cyclone Idai could prove to be the deadliest storm in generations to hit the impoverished southeast African country of 30 million people.
Cyclone Idai made landfall near Beira around midnight Thursday and moved through neighboring Zimbabwe and parts of Malawi.
The country’s president, who cut short a visit to neighboring Swaziland over the weekend because of the disaster, spoke after flying by helicopter over Beira and two rural provinces, where he reported widespread devastation.
“The waters of the Pungue and Buzi rivers overflowed, making whole villages disappear and isolating communities, and bodies are floating,” Nyusi said.
It struck Beira, an Indian Ocean port city of a half-million people, which has a poor communication and transportation network and a corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy.
Emergency officials cautioned that while they expect the death toll to rise significantly, they have no way of knowing if it will reach the president’s estimate.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said 90 per cent of Beira was damaged or destroyed. The cyclone knocked out electricity, shut down the airport and cut off access to the city by road.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said rivers have broken their banks leaving many houses fully submerged and around 11,000 households displaced in Nsanje, in southern Malawi.
United Nations agencies and the Red Cross helped rush emergency food and medicine by helicopter to the stricken countries.
The United Nation’s humanitarian office said the government issued flood warnings and said heavy rains were forecast for the next 24 hours, including in areas already hit hard by Idai.