Saturday 19 October 2019

In Pictures: Cyclone leaves trail of destruction in southern Africa, death toll expected to hit 1,000

  • Full cost of disaster still to emerge - Red Cross
  • Mozambique death count could top 1,000 - president
  • Survivors stranded five days after storm hit
An elderly woman stands next to a collapsed bridge in Chimanimani, about 600 kilometers southeast of Harare, Zimbabwe, Monday, March 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
An elderly woman stands next to a collapsed bridge in Chimanimani, about 600 kilometers southeast of Harare, Zimbabwe, Monday, March 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
A man looks at a washed away bridge along Umvumvu river following Cyclone Idai in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Soldiers carry injured survivors from a helicopter in Chimanimani about 600 kilometres south east of Harare, Zimbabwe, Tuesday, March, 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Children stand near a makeshift shelter after a cyclone went through the area in Chimanimani, southeast of Harare, Zimbabwe, Monday, March 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
A general view shows destruction after Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique, March 16-17, 2019 in this still image taken from a social media video on March 19, 2019. Care International/Josh Estey via REUTERS
Police keep a close watch as a loader clears the road in Chimanimani, southeast of Harare, Zimbabwe, Monday, March 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
A man looks at a washed away bridge along Umvumvu river following Cyclone Idai in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo
Livestock is seen at a washed away bridge along Umvumvu river following Cyclone Idai in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo
A man carries loaves of bread across a collapsed bridge in Chimanimani, southeast of Harare, Zimbabwe, Monday, March 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
In this photo taken on Friday, March 15, 2019 and provided by the International Red Cross, a man searches through the rubble after Tropical Cyclone Idai, in Beira, Mozambique.(Denis Onyodi/IFRC via AP)
In this photo taken on Friday, March 15, 2019 and provided by the International Red Cross, people carry their personal effects after Tropical Cyclone Idai, in Beira, Mozambique. (Denis Onyodi/IFRC via AP)
A woman makes her way to a school building being used as an emergency shelter for some 300 local people who are unable to return to their homes following cyclone force winds and heavy rain in the coastal city of Beira, Mozambique, Sunday March 17, 2019. (Josh Estey/CARE via AP)
In this photo taken on Friday, March 15, 2019 and provided by the International Red Cross, a woman hangs a cloth to dry in a sea of rubble after Tropical Cyclone Idai, in Beira, Mozambique. Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi says that more than 1,000 may have by killed by Cyclone Idai, which many say is the worst in more than 20 years. Speaking to state Radio Mozambique, Nyusi said Monday, March 18 that although the official death count is currently 84, he believes the toll will be more than 1,000. (Denis Onyodi/IFRC via AP)
People return to their homes following a cyclone, and heavy rain in the coastal city of Beira, Mozambique, Sunday March 17, 2019. More than 1,000 people are feared dead in Mozambique four days after a cyclone slammed into the southern African country destroying vulnerable residential areas. (Josh Estey/CARE via AP)
People return to Praia Nova Village, one of the most affected neighbourhoods following a cyclone in the coastal city of Beira, Mozambique, Sunday March 17, 2019. Families are returning to the vulnerable shanty town following cyclone high winds and rain. More than 1,000 people are feared dead in Mozambique four days after a cyclone slammed into the southern African country. (Josh Estey/CARE via AP)

Manuel Mucari and Macdonald Dzirutwe

The number of people killed in a powerful cyclone and flooding in Mozambique has risen above 200, more than doubling the country's death toll from a storm that could rank as one of the worst weather-related disasters in the southern hemisphere.

Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi said in a televised statement following a cabinet meeting on the disaster on Tuesday that the death toll after Cylone Idai now stood at more than 200, up from 84.

Winds of up to 170 kph (105 mph) and flooding swept across southeastern Africa, including Zimbabwe and Mozambique, affecting more than 2.6 million people, United Nations officials said on Tuesday.

Rescue crews were still struggling to reach victims five days later, while aid groups said many survivors were trapped in remote areas, surrounded by wrecked roads, flattened buildings and submerged villages. The Red Cross said at least 400,000 people had been made homeless in central Mozambique alone.

"This is the worst humanitarian crisis in Mozambique's history," said Jamie LeSueur, who is leading rescue efforts in Beira for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The organisation said large areas to the west of the port city of Beira were severely flooded, and in places close to the Buzi and Pungwe rivers flood waters are metres deep, completely submerging homes, telephone poles and trees.

LeSueur had said earlier on Tuesday, when the death toll was 84, that the full human impact of the disaster remained unclear, and that the figure was likely to rise.

While the official count has increased, it remains well below the 1,000 deaths Nyusi had estimated after flying over some of the worst-hit zones, witnessing submerged villages and bodies floating in the water.

In this photo taken on Friday, March 15, 2019 and provided by the International Red Cross, people carry their personal effects after Tropical Cyclone Idai, in Beira, Mozambique. (Denis Onyodi/IFRC via AP)
In this photo taken on Friday, March 15, 2019 and provided by the International Red Cross, people carry their personal effects after Tropical Cyclone Idai, in Beira, Mozambique. (Denis Onyodi/IFRC via AP)

The cyclone hit land near Beira on Thursday and moved inland throughout the weekend, leaving heavy rains in its trail on Tuesday. More rural areas remained unaccessible.

Studies of satellite images suggested 1.7 million people were in the path of the cyclone in Mozambique and another 920,000 affected in Malawi, said Herve Verhoosel, senior spokesman at the U.N World Food Programme. He gave no figures for Zimbabwe.

In Maputo, Mozambique's capital, people worried about missing relatives.

Telma fa Gloria, a street vendor, said she had not heard from her mother, who she usually speaks to every day, or her siblings, for days. Her mother's neighbourhood was in one of the worst-hit areas.

A woman makes her way to a school building being used as an emergency shelter for some 300 local people who are unable to return to their homes following cyclone force winds and heavy rain in the coastal city of Beira, Mozambique, Sunday March 17, 2019. (Josh Estey/CARE via AP)
A woman makes her way to a school building being used as an emergency shelter for some 300 local people who are unable to return to their homes following cyclone force winds and heavy rain in the coastal city of Beira, Mozambique, Sunday March 17, 2019. (Josh Estey/CARE via AP)

"I'm stitched up, with nothing to do," she said, adding she was thinking of going to Beira to find out what had happened. "I don't have the strength to get the news I don't want to hear, and I don't wish anyone to hear."

WORST FEARS

Heavy rains preceded the cyclone, compounding the problems.

"If the worst fears are realised ... then we can say that it is one of the worst weather-related disasters, tropical-cyclone-related disasters in the southern hemisphere," said Clare Nullis of the U.N. World Meteorological Organization.

Children stand near a makeshift shelter after a cyclone went through the area in Chimanimani, southeast of Harare, Zimbabwe, Monday, March 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Children stand near a makeshift shelter after a cyclone went through the area in Chimanimani, southeast of Harare, Zimbabwe, Monday, March 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Droughts are classed as climate-related not weather-related.

In Beira, a low-lying coastal city of 500,000 people, Nullis said the water had nowhere to drain.

"This is not going to go away quickly," she said.

A man looks at a washed away bridge along Umvumvu river following Cyclone Idai in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A man looks at a washed away bridge along Umvumvu river following Cyclone Idai in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Mark Ellul, a 31-year-old British doctor from Manchester who was working at the Beira hospital when the storm hit the city on Thursday, was trapped in a hotel room. He said the hospital suffered significant damage.

"It was pretty terrifying during the storm, extremely noisy, frightening and you can hear the flying debris outside," Ellul said. "It felt like the windows were going to break, like the storm was going to come into the room."

Beira is also home to Mozambique's second largest port, which serves as a gateway to landlocked countries in the region.

The control room of a pipeline that runs from Beira to Zimbabwe and supplies the majority of that country's fuel has been damaged, Zimbabwe's Energy Minister Jorum Gumbo told state-owned Herald newspaper on Tuesday.

"We, however, have enough stocks in the country and I am told the repairs at Beira may take a week," he was quoted as saying.

AID ON THE WAY

The European Union announced on Tuesday an initial emergency aid package of 3.5 million euros ($3.97 million) to Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe for logistical support to reach affected people, emergency shelters, hygiene, sanitation and health care.

Britain has pledged up to 6 million pounds ($7.96 million) in aid.

Citizens in Zimbabwe are mobilising donations, including cash, food and clothes to help thousands of families whose homes were wrecked by the cyclone.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who visited Chimanimani on Tuesday, told reporters that Tanzania and the United Arab Emirates were also sending donations while neighbours, including South Africa, Botswana and Angola, would also help.

Reuters

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News