Cyclone Idai hits Mozambique

Grace Walker, Staff Writer

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Cyclone Idai came crashing into Mozambique on March 4, 2019, and now the country is fearing that over 1,000 of their residents may be dead. President Filipe Nyusi addresses the nation via radio on Monday, March 18. “Officially, we have a record of more than 84 dead but everything indicates that we can have a record of more than 1,000 dead.” Nyusi also added that 100,000 additional residents are in danger, after he flew over the country to view the destruction and aid in rescue efforts. “Waters from the rivers Pungue and Buzi have broken their banks, wiping out entire villages, isolating communities and we could see, as we flew above, bodies floating,” the President said in his statement. A dam also burst in Beira as a result of the heavy rains and floods, cutting off the last road to the city. This makes taking aid to Beira an increasingly difficult struggle.

Idai made landfall near Beira around midnight on Thursday and moved through neighboring Zimbabwe and parts of Malawi. Initial investigations in Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique suggested that there are more than 150 people have been killed between those three countries. However, humanitarian organizations have warned that the death toll could spike dramatically. The cyclone has caused horrifying damage in Biera, a coastal city in Mozambique which has been cut off from the rest of the country. Residents in Beira were struck, and some even decapitated, by flying sheets of metal coming off the roofs of homes. Jamie LeSueur, the leader of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IRFC) assessment of the area, said the destruction is devastating and unlike any recent storm. “Almost everything is destroyed. Communication lines have been completely cut, and roads have been destroyed. Some affected communities are not accessible.”

Government spokesman Nick Mangwana told reporters that the number of Zimbabweans lost has reached a total of 89, and that engineers were working to get medication and supplies to the injured, sick, or trapped. President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has declared disaster. Cyclone Idai triggered floods and rains that swept away hundreds of homes in the eastern and western parts of Zimbabwe. The natural disaster came just a week after severe flooding that impacted Mozambique and Malawi, which is associated with the same storm system that produced the cyclone. Many are still missing in the wake of the storm.

Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa, was quick to note that the quickly changing climate is partially to blame for the intense storms. “As the effects of climate change intensify, these extreme weather conditions can be expected to revisit us more frequently. The devastation wrought by Cyclone Idai is yet another wake-up call for the world to put in place ambitious climate change mitigation measures.”

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