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  • Idai storm route. March 18, 2019

    Idai storm route. March 18, 2019 | Photo: NASA

Published 18 March 2019

Cyclone Idai has devasted parts of Mozambique and Zimbabwe, leaving 128 dead in its wake and hundreds of thousands affected or displaced.

Authorities in the southern African nations of Mozambique and Zimbabwe say the cyclone that tore through the two neighboring countries has left 128 people dead and hundreds more missing.

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As of Sunday the effects of tropical cyclone Idai had left 62 people dead in Mozambique and another 65 in Zimbabwe after 177 km per hour winds hit along with torrential rains hit the city of Beira, Mozambique Thursday.

Mozambique’s environment Minister Celso Correia said Sunday of the final body count: “We will certainly end with a higher toll.”

“Our priority now is to save human lives,” added the minister.

“I think this is the biggest natural disaster Mozambique has ever faced. Everything is destroyed,” Correia told reporters from the city of Beira that experts estimate was 90 percent destroyed.

“The scale of damage caused by cyclone Idai that hit the Mozambican city of Beira is massive and horrifying,” Jamie LeSueur from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said of the city with 500,000 residents.

LeSueur told Africa News: “The situation is terrible. The scale of devastation is enormous. It seems that 90 percent of the area is completely destroyed (and) communication lines have been completely cut and roads have been destroyed." ​​​​​​​

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Idai hit Mozambique first on Thursday night then moved on to Zimbabwe.

Local Zimbabwe government official, July Moyo told reporters, "Some of the bodies have been found floating along the rivers." She added that, "a number of people … are missing."

Zimbabwe’s eastern Chimanimani district suffered the brunt of the storm’s winds, rain and landslides. Flash floods washed away houses and bridges to areas still inaccessible to rescue teams.

“So far we looking at 65 people that have lost their lives,” Joshua Sacco, a Chimanimani legislator told AFP by phone, adding that between “150 to 200 people” are missing.

The majority of those who can't be found are government workers whose housing quarters in the district were taken over by overflowing rivers and rapids.

“We are very worried because all these houses were just suddenly submerged under water and literally washed away and that is where we have about 147 missing,” said Sacco.

“It’s very sad and the situation is dire.”

The United Nations in Zimbabwe said that nearly 10,000 were affected by the cyclone and the The World Food Program estimates, “at least 1.7 million people were in the direct path of the cyclone in Mozambique.”

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has declared a state of disaster in the country’s affected areas. On Saturday the president tweeted: "My thoughts & prayers are with all those affected by Cyclone Idai." 

As of last Wednesday, 56 people had lost their lives in Malawi due to the tropical despression that formed over the country in early March, spawning Idai, according to NASA. Some 83,000 residents are without a home there because of the severe weather patterns that have remained over the country for the past two weeks.

A district officer for Malawi's disaster management department, Francis Kadzokoya, told Reuters, "the general situation has been very pathetic."​​​​​​​

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