Over 1 000 may have died in Mozambique after cyclone Idai
A tropical cyclone that swept across Mozambique at the weekend may have killed more than 1 000 people, President Filipe Nyusi said as heavy rain continued to pound neighbouring Zimbabwe, where flooding left dozens more dead. “It’s clear that the next few days could be worse,” Nyusi said in comments broadcast on state radio. “If more than 1 000 lives have been lost, we won’t be surprised.” The death toll has risen sharply since Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall almost directly over the Mozambican port city of Beira on Friday, 15 March 2019, knocking out communications networks and power plants before moving westward to Zimbabwe. The scale of the damage wrought by the storm is “massive and horrifying”, said Jamie LeSueur, who is leading an International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies assessment team in Beira. “It seems that 90 percent of the area is completely destroyed,” he said in a statement.
Eskom, said the storm reduced the amount of electricity it imported from Mozambique’s Cahora Bassa hydropower dam, exacerbating a shortage that’s resulted in blackouts.
Almost 850 000 people have been affected by severe rains and flooding caused by cyclone Idai, a tropical cyclone that hit the Mozambican port of Beira on Thursday night. Parts of Malawi and Zambia have also been affected. So far, at least 145 people have been killed, although this number is expected to rise as more information emerges from the affected areas.
“I think this is the biggest natural disaster Mozambique has ever faced. Everything is destroyed. Our priority now is to save human lives,” Mozambique’s environment Minister Celso Correia said.
Winds of up to 170 kilometres per hour, coupled with heavy rains, have dismantled homes and buildings and left much of the region without power. The storm has already delivered an estimated 750mm of rainfall to some areas, according to satellites. Satellite estimates are liable to underestimate the maximum rainfall in a region.
In low-lying Beira, a gateway for imports to southeast Africa, Twitter images and television footage showed billboards and rooftops blown away, trees snapped, communication towers knocked down and electricity cables lying across the streets. Villages along the coast of the northerly Zambezi province were cut off from the mainland by a two-metre storm surge.
Riga-Rescue member are part of Gift of the Givers special rescue Unit that deployed to Mozambique after Idai lashed out. 11 vehicles one ambulance and the truck full of equipment were sent with the team. Off Road Rescue Unit Emergency Control SA - JHB West was also part of the team.
“Rescuers from different agencies are currently mobile to Mozambique in anticipation for rescue and relief efforts for the category three hurricane Idai that is set to land on Thursday afternoon. Rescue Care Paramedics, IPSS Paramedics, Rescue South Africa together with Lenmed Hospital Group geared up throughout last night in preparation to leave this morning to Mozambique. The team is mobile to be on standby at Lenmed Maputo Private Hospital,” said Garrith Jamieson, of Rescue Care Paramedics on 13 March 2019, before the storm hit. Paul Herbst of IPSS said, “The teams will be supported by Lenmed Maputo Private Hospital in the country today, thereafter heading north to Beira where the cyclone’s epicentre will reach land closer to the weekend. Cyclone Idai is expected to be the largest the area will see in a decade.”
In an update from Beira, as of 22h00 Sunday 17 March 2019, Dylan Meyrick of IPSS Medical Rescue, in Beira, said, “I managed to beg a lift from the air force to Maputo tonight to get comms and contact the guys families. Beira resembles a war zone! 100 percent of buildings in the city have been damaged and a huge number of those destroyed. The local population living in the rural areas have been hardest hit. Entire villages have been washed away. It has been humbling to see how these people have lost the very little that they had but are resilient and are determined to survive.
There is no electricity and as a result infrequent water, no cellular service and no internet. The EN6 which is the only road in and out of Beira has been destroyed by flood waters about 70km from the city. This morning we estimated that up to 2 000 people need rescuing as the flood waters continue to rise.
The teams have worked up to 18 hours a day in shocking conditions rescuing people trapped in trees and on roof tops to escape the water. It has been a life changing experience for the members to have to decide who to rescue and who to leave behind.
In a profession where they have to deal with situations on a daily basis that no person should, this is probably the most difficult that we have encountered.”
Gift of the Givers Foundation says its 32-member team has landed in Maputo to help with relief and rescue efforts. Chairman of Gift of the Givers, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, said, “After getting some information yesterday [Sunday], it seemed that a lot of people are in really serious trouble in terms of the water levels raising beyond their roofs, we decided that we need to do something and at 4h00 we sent out 32 people with 4x4s and boats.”
The Department of International Relations and Cooperation said contingency plans were in place to assist any South Africans who may have been affected.
Source: ENCA, Storm Report SA, Mail and Guardian