20 March 2019

Mozambique: 1000s Trapped on Roofs & in Trees Awaiting Rescue

Photo: PHOTOESSAY: Death, Destruction After Cyclone Idai's Rampage Through Mozambique

More than a thousand people are feared to have died in a cyclone that smashed into Mozambique, while scores were killed and more than 200 are missing in neighboring Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Flooding is now the major crisis in Mozambique, with at least 400 sq km flooded according to European Union satellite imagery. But heavy cloud cover and continuing rain makes even satellite photography difficult. Water continues to pour down the Pungue and Buzi rivers from Zimbabwe and Manica province making the flooding worse. 1000s of people are trapped on roofs and in trees. Only 167 people were rescued yesterday, but it is hoped to rescue more today by helicopter and planes. Priority for rescue are on the injured and children.

An interview in English with emergency spokesperson Caroline Haga of the Red Cross is on bit.ly/MozCyclone1. "No one expected the seriousness of the flooding", she said. Flooding has made the crisis "so much worse than we expected."

Estimates are that more than half a million people have lost their homes.

Beira remains totally cut off by road and will remain cut off for some days. A relief ship is being prepared today in Maputo port. Two of the three mobile telephone networks, MCel and Movitel, have restored some service. There is no electricity or water and limited food.

This is definitely the worst disaster since the Limpopo River floods in 2000 in which 700 people died and 45,000 were rescued. Cyclone Idai "risks being one of the deadliest weather-related disasters in the Southern Hemisphere," according to Clare Nullis, spokesperson for the World Meteorological Organization.

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