World

More than 1,000 feared dead in Mozambique storm

19 March 2019 - 52   - 0

More than a thousand people are feared to have died in a cyclone that smashed into Mozambique last week, while scores were killed and more than 200 are missing in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

The city of Beira in central Mozambique bore Cyclone Idai's full wrath on Thursday before the storm barrelled on to neighbouring Zimbabwe, unleashing fierce winds and flash floods and washing away roads and houses.

"For the moment we have registered 84 deaths officially, but when we flew over the area... this morning to understand what's going on, everything indicates that we could register more than 1,000 deaths," Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi said in a nationwide address.

"This is a real humanitarian disaster," he said. "More than 100,000 people are in danger".

Survivors have taken refuge in trees while awaiting help, the president added.

Aerial photographs released by a Christian non-profit organisation, the Mission Aviation Fellowship, showed groups of people stuck on rooftops with flood waters up to window level.

In neighbouring Zimbabwe, Idai left 98 dead and at least 217 more missing, according to the information ministry. Families started burying their dead on Monday in damp graves, according to an AFP photographer.

The storm swept away homes and ripped bridges to pieces, leaving destruction that acting defence minister Perrance Shiri said "resembles the aftermath of a full-scale war".

Some roads were swallowed up by massive sinkholes, while bridges were ripped to pieces by flash floods.

"This is the worst infrastructural damage we have ever had," Zimbabwe's Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza said.

The eastern district of Chimanimani was worst-hit, with houses and most of the region's bridges washed away by flash floods. The most affected areas are not yet accessible, and high winds and dense clouds have hampered military rescue helicopter flights.

(AFP)

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