Cyclone Idai and the mounting death toll is "yet another alarm bell about the dangers of climate change" UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Tuesday, warning that vulnerable countries like Mozambique, would be hit the hardest unless urgent action is taken by nations across the world.
"Such events are becoming more frequent, more severe and more widespread, and this will only get worse if we do not act now", said the UN chief. "In the face of turbo-charged storms, we need revved up climate action", he added, addressing correspondents at UN Headquarters in New York.
The Secretary-General has convened a Climate Action Summit this September, to try and mobilize countries around the urgent need to reduce global warming to well under 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The death toll across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, stands at around 700, but figures are expected to rise, with hundreds still missing. An estimated three million have been affected, nearly two-thirds of them in Mozambique, where key port city Beira was "practically razed to the ground" while the farmland interior has been inundated, said Mr. Guterres.
At least a million children need "urgent assistance", and "we fear that whole villages have been washed away places we have yet to reach", the UN chief added, with reports that $1 billion-worth of infrastructure has been destroyed. He said citizens of the three southern African nations would need "strong, sustained support".
On Monday, the UN launched a launched a $281.7 million revised flash appeal for Mozambique, designating the disaster a "scale-up emergency", which is the most severe: "I call on the international community to fund these appeals quickly and fully so that aid agencies can urgently ramp up their responses", said Mr. Guterres.
We'll have more on this story shortly, including an update on the relief effort from agencies in the field