Mozambique cyclone: "90 per cent" of Beira and surrounds damaged or destroyed

Arturo Kim
March 19, 2019

"Officially, we have a record of more than 84 dead but everything indicates that we can have a record of more than 1,000 dead", Nyusi said, adding that "100,000 people are in danger". "Rescue operations are underway and we are grateful for the bravery of the men and women of the Zimbabwean armed forces who, along with our local and worldwide partners, are participating in the urgent rescue efforts", President Mnangagwa tweeted. "We are very anxious because all these houses were just suddenly submerged under water and literally washed away and that is where we have about 147 missing", said Joshua Sacco, a local lawmaker.

The most affected areas are not yet accessible, and high winds and dense clouds have hampered military rescue helicopter flights.

The storm hit Beira late Thursday and then moved westward into Zimbabwe and Malawi, affecting thousands more, particularly in eastern areas bordering Mozambique.

Aerial photographs released by a Christian non-profit organisation, the Mission Aviation Fellowship, showed groups of people stuck on roof tops with flood waters up to window level. Many people in the Beira region fled for their lives or took to the rooftops as the floodwaters rose.

"Tropical cyclone damage is a function not only of the intensity of the storm, but also the population size, level of development, and adaptation that has been implemented", she said in reply to emailed questions.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been forced to cut short his visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to attend to the devastating effects of Tropical Cyclone Idai, which has so far claimed 82 lives and left almost 200 missing.

Damages at the airport in Beira Mozambique in the aftermath of the passage of the cyclone Idai
Damages at the airport in Beira Mozambique in the aftermath of the passage of the cyclone Idai

Idai battered central Mozambique on Friday, killing at least 21 people and cutting off more than half a million people in the port city of Beira.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has cut short his visit to the UAE due to the ensuing crisis and is closely monitoring the situation.

The cyclone has now dissipated into a tropical depression, giving room for rescuers to get into the affected areas. "UNICEF is on the ground working in close coordination with respective governments and humanitarian partners from three countries to scale up our response and respond to the immediate needs of affected children and their families".

Tents have been set up to provide shelter for those affected by the cyclone and scores of villagers have made their way to the relief area, some having trekked for up to 20 kilometres to reach safety.

An editorial published Monday by Zimbabwe's state-owned daily newspaper, The Herald, called the storm a "wake-up call to climate change". Small aircraft lies damaged at the city's worldwide airport which was temporarily shut due to damage.

In South Africa, the continent's most industrialised nation, the devastation of the cyclone has resulted in an electricity deficit being experienced.

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