A second disaster unfolded yesterday in northern Mozambique in the wake of Cyclone Kenneth as raging flood waters killed one person and began to cut off the region’s main city from the outside world. Some 160,000 people were at risk, with more torrential rain forecast for the days ahead.
More than 35,000 homes in parts of Mozambique’s northernmost Cabo Delgado were partially or fully destroyed by the storm. More than 23,000 people were in shelters, the government said.
Aid workers trying to reach hard-hit communities outside Pemba yesterday were forced to turn back by rivers that burst their banks, with flood waters reaching the roofs of nearby houses. It was not clear when aid to scores of thousands of people outside the city could be delivered.
“Helicopters cannot fly, a number of flights were canceled, so humanitarian workers cannot arrive and additional cargo cannot arrive by air,” Finney with Save the Children told The Associated Press. He was concerned that the main road to Nampula, an important trucking route, would soon be blocked.
He described “total devastation” affecting a 60-kilometer (37-mile) stretch of coastline and nearby islands.On Saturday, aerial photos showed several coastal communities flattened by the cyclone. “Not a single house is standing anymore,” Saviano Abreu, a spokesman with the U.N. humanitarian agency, told reporters. Livelihoods have been lost and people are wondering how they will cope in a country struggling with one of the world’s highest poverty rates.
Authorities earlier said at least five people died after Kenneth roared in Thursday evening with the force of a Category 4 hurricane, stunning residents of a region where such a storm had not been recorded in the modern era.
This was the first time in recorded history that the southern African nation has been hit by two cyclones in one season, again raising concerns about climate change. The new storm’s remnants could dump twice as much rain as Idai, the U.N. World Program has said. Up to 100 millimeters (nearly 4 inches) were forecast in the next 24 hours for some parts of the region, according to Mozambique’s meteorological institute.