Mozambique’s president, Filipe Nyusi on Monday said the death toll from Cyclone Idai and the preceding floods could exceed 1,000.
Only 84 deaths have been confirmed so far in Mozambique as a result of Cyclone Idai, which has also left a trail of death and destruction across Zimbabwe and Malawi, with vast areas of land flooded, roads destroyed and communication wiped out.
Speaking on Radio Mocambique, Nyusi said he had flown over the affected region, where two rivers had overflowed. Villages had disappeared, he said, and bodies were floating in the water.
“Everything indicates that we can register more than one thousand deaths,” he said.
The cyclone has also killed 89 people in Zimbabwe, an official said on Monday, while the death toll in Malawi from heavy rains and flooding stood at 56 as of last week. No new numbers had been released following the cyclone’s arrival in the country.
Caroline Haga, a senior International Federation of the Red Cross official who is in Beira, said the situation could be far worse in the surrounding areas, which remained completely cut off by road and where houses were not as sturdy.
Nyusi flew over areas that were otherwise accessible, and some of which had been hit by flooding before Cyclone Idai.
Over in South Africa, President Ramaphosa deployed the South Africa National Defence Force, SANDF, to help Mozambican rescue effort.
Mozambique’s weather service has warned that heavy rain will continue to batter Beira and surrounding areas until Sunday.
The UN warned of damage to crops, “including about 168,000 hectares (415,000 acres) of crops already impacted by flooding in early March, which will undermine food security and nutrition”.
Mozambique and Malawi, two of the poorest countries in the world, are prone to deadly flooding during the rainy season and chronic drought during the dry season.
In neighbouring Zimbabwe, weather services have warned that violent thunderstorms, lightning and strong winds will be experienced in the eastern regions of the country.
At least 126 people were killed by the downpour that has struck parts of Mozambique, Malawi and South Africa over the past week, officials said.
Authorities in Mozambique are working around the clock to mitigate the damage caused by a powerful tropical storm that made landfall on Thursday evening, battering a coastal city with heavy rain and wind at speeds of up to up 170 km an hour and injuring several people.
In Beira, a city of around 500,000 people and a gateway for imports to landlocked countries in southeast Africa, Twitter images and television footage showed billboards and rooftops blown off, trees snapped and electricity cables strewn across the streets.
In the northern Zambezi province, villages along the coastline were cut off from the mainland by the storm surge.
Mozambican television channel TVM reported that at least five people had been seriously injured.
Cyclone Idai dumped more water and brought destruction on areas where scores of people have already been killed and tens of thousands displaced by floods over the past week.
Author: Staff Writer