Cyclone Idai: Devastation in Mozambique and Zimbabwe

Written by on March 18, 2019

Cyclone Idai has had a “massive and horrifying” impact on Mozambique’s port city of Beira, the Red Cross says.

Dozens of people have died as a result of the flooding and high winds, which have destroyed homes and ripped roofs from concrete buildings.

Cyclone Idai made landfall on Thursday with winds of up to 177 km/h (106 mph), but aid teams only reached Beira on Sunday.

It has killed at least 150 people across southern Africa.

In Mozambique, people have had to be rescued from trees, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society (IFRC) assessment team, Jamie LeSeur, told the BBC.

In neighbouring Zimbabwe, more than 80 people have died in the east and south, information ministry head Nick Mangwana told Reuters news agency.

This includes two pupils from the St Charles Lwanga boarding school in the district of Chimanimani, who died after their dormitory was hit when rocks swept down a mountain.

Malawi has also been badly hit. The flooding there, caused by the rains before the cyclone made landfall, led to at least 122 deaths, Reliefweb reports.

How bad is the damage in Beira?

At least 68 people have died in Mozambique, mostly around Beira, the country’s fourth largest city with a population of about 500,000, the authorities there say.

More than 1,500 people have been injured by falling trees and debris from buildings including zinc roofing, the BBC’s Jose Tembe in the capital, Maputo, quotes officials as saying.

Car crushed by a container
Image captionThe winds have caused extensive damage to property in Beira

“Almost everything has been affected by the calamity,” Alberto Mondlane, the governor of Sofala province, which includes Beira, said on Sunday.

“We have people currently suffering, some on top of trees and are badly in need of help.”

Local people in Beira have put in an “incredible effort” to reopen roads in the city, Mr LeSeur told the BBC’s Newsday programme.

“Beira has been severely battered. But we are hearing that the situation outside the city could be even worse,” a statement from the IFRC quotes him as saying.

Car hit by fallen tree in Beira
Image captionThe port city of Beira bore the brunt of the cyclone

The road linking Beira to the rest of the country has been damaged, but air links have now resumed.

President Filipe Nyusi cut short a trip to eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, to visit the affected areas.

What’s the situation in Zimbabwe?

A state of disaster has been declared in Zimbabwe. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has returned home early from a trip to the United Arab Emirates to “make sure he is involved directly with the national response”, the authorities say.

The ministry of information has shared pictures of pupils from St Charles Lwanga School, who have now been rescued.Skip Twitter post by @InfoMinZW

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

Ministry of Information, Publicity & Broadcasting@InfoMinZW

St Charles Lwanga School children are now safely in Chipinge and currently receiving medical attention.9012:57 PM – Mar 18, 201967 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacyReport

End of Twitter post by @InfoMinZW

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‘Frustration is growing’

Shingai Nyoka, BBC Africa, Mutare, eastern Zimbabwe

It’s been days since the first rains fell but the skies here show no signs of clearing.

Roads and bridges have been washed away and air rescue is the only hope for the hundreds who remain stuck.

The low-hanging clouds and mist are stopping rescue efforts and frustration is growing at the command centre here in Mutare.

Social Welfare Minister Sekesai Nzenza told me that helicopters have waited for days to airlift the injured and deliver food and blankets to those affected by the flooding.

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Map of affected regions

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