Cyclone's huge floods leave hundreds dead in southern Africa

Mar 20, 2019, 01:13
Cyclone's huge floods leave hundreds dead in southern Africa

Humanitarian aid groups are rescuing survivors of Cyclone Idai which swept through Mozambique and Malawi before hitting Zimbabwe.

Worldwide aid agencies and government officials are scrambling Tuesday to rescue families trapped by the floodwaters from rivers that have burst their banks and are still rising.

The stations have either lost power or their pumping equipment flooded and that it was unable to provide water to people serviced by the affected water supply stations.

Flood waters cover large tracts of land in Nicoadala, Zambezia Province of Mozambique.

More than 1,000 people are feared dead, four days since Cyclone Idai smashed into the African country of Mozambique, the nation's president said.

The total death toll is now 180 but Mozambique's president, Filipe Nyusi, fears it could reach thousands.

A destroyed auto is seen amid the destruction provoked by the passage of the cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique, on March 17, 2019. Villages had disappeared, he said, and bodies were floating in the water.

Zimbabwe is the latest country in Southern Africa to be hit by heavy rains and violent winds, after Malawi and Mozambique.

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Mozambique's Pungue and Buzi rivers overflowed, creating "inland oceans extending for miles and miles in all directions", Verhoosel said.

The extent of the damage was not yet known as many areas remained impassible.

Chimanimani district, which is near the border with Mozambique and bore the brunt of the cyclone, has been cut off from the rest of the country.

In the early hours of Monday morning, rescuers launched dinghies onto chest-high waters, navigating through reeds and trees - where some people perched on branches to escape the water - to rescue those trapped by the flooding. "Red Cross volunteers in Beira are also handing out chlorine so that people can purify water", said LeSueur.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa said that the government was conducting rescue missions and delivering food aid.

The city and surrounding areas were without power and almost all communication lines were destroyed.

"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.

Beira worldwide airport was closed because of cyclone damage but later reopened.

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"Beira has been severely battered".

More than 215 people were killed by the storm in the three countries, including more than 80 in Zimbabwe's eastern Chimanimani region, according to official figures.

While the official death toll stands at 84 in Mozambique, it's expected to rise significantly. His wife carried their 1-year-old child while their 11-year-old son struggled to keep pace as they joined many others in seeking refuge.

"Sometimes we can only save two out of five, sometimes we rather drop food and go to someone else who's in bigger danger", he said.

Dr Rebecca Emerton, of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading, said her team was working with experts in the area hit by Cyclone Idai to try to improve forecasting and warning systems.

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

In a related development, Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) said its supply stations have been affected by flooding.

The Harare government has declared a state of disaster in areas affected by the storm.

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