Cyclone devastates three African countries

Food distribution in Beira, Mozambique–UN Photo

Tropical Cyclone Idai has so far killed more than 200 people in three African countries, but as many as 1,000 may have died, and more than 1.5 million may have been affected across Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, the United Nations News is reporting.

During a fly-over of the destroyed area, Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi said more than 1,000 were feared to be dead four days after Idai slammed the country, submerging villages.

Bodies were seen floating in the flood waters and people can be seen standing on roofs waiting to be rescued, President Nyusi said.

Mozambique, which is located in southeast Africa, has a population of 30 million.  “It is the worst cyclone of generations,” said President Nyusi, who added, “It is a real disaster of great proportions.”

The cyclone first struck Beira, a port city of 500,000 people on the Indian Ocean before moving inland to Zimbabwe and Malawi with torrential rains and 200 kilometers (124.2 miles)  per hour winds.

United Nations officials said 90 percent of Beira was either damaged or destroyed and that the city’s central hospital was flooded, without power and the building’s roof had collapsed. The storm closed roads and shut down the country’s airport.

“The destruction in Beira is “massive and horrifying,” said Jamie LeSueur, who led the Red Cross team that studied the damage by helicopter because the flooded roads were not driveable.

Doctors Without Borders has temporarily ceased operations in the area.

More than 215 people have been killed in the three countries, but Doctors Without Borders said there is no way of knowing the full extent of the death toll until submerged villages can be reached.

Doctors Without Borders reported many rivers had broken their banks, leaving homes fully submerged and sinking 11,000 households.

Mozambique is a long narrow country with a 1,500-mile coastline along the Indian Ocean. It is prone to cyclones at this time of the year. In 2000, a hurricane killed 700 people and sparked the worst flooding in 50 years. It is a former Portuguese colony that won its independence in 1975.


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