Mozambique is witnessing one of the worst natural disasters in its history with cyclone Idai leaving a trail of destruction in the southeast African nation. Over 1,000 people are feared dead after the cyclone slammed into the country last week, with the city of Beira facing Idai's full wrath.
The storm made landfall near the port city of Beira on Thursday, March 14, as a high end Category 2 storm with winds of up to 177 kilometre per hour. However, the aid teams are said to have reached the city only on Sunday, March 17, by which time "90 percent of the region" had been washed away. While the recorded death toll currently stands at about 84, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi said in a nationwide address that the toll could hit 1,000 soon.
"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," the Agency France-Presse quoted Nyusi as saying.
"This is a real humanitarian disaster. More than 100,000 people are in danger," he said. The president also added that bodies could be seen floating at several places and the situation was so bad that survivors had nowhere to go and were taking shelter in trees while they waited for help.
Cyclone Idai caused heavy rainfall and strong winds in the region, which in turn brought down buildings, trees and power lines. Roads and other forms of communication have been cut off and businesses too have reportedly been shut. Environment minister Celso Correia said that the nation was now focused on saving and rebuilding lives. "I think this is the biggest natural disaster Mozambique has ever faced. Everything is destroyed," the Guardian quoted Correia as saying. "Our priority now is to save human lives."
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) described the situation as "terrible" and spokesperson Jamie LeSueur said that entire villages have been wiped out.
"Almost everything is destroyed. Communication lines have been completely cut and roads have been destroyed. Some affected communities are not accessible," LeSueur said in a statement. "Beira has been severely battered. But we are also hearing that the situation outside the city could be even worse. Yesterday, a large dam burst and cut off the last road to the city."
Making things worse, survivors do not have access to medical facilities. "Medical activities in Beira hospital, in local health centers, and throughout the community have ceased completely," the agency added.
Idai affects Zimbabwe and Malawi
After battering Mozambique, Cyclone Idai moved through Zimbabwe and parts of Malawi as a tropical storm. While 56 have been reported dead in Malawi, Zimbabwe's Ministry of Information tweeted on Monday, March 18, that 98 people had been confirmed death.
Hundreds of residents in Zimbabwe are also said to be missing and President Emmerson Mnangagwa has declared a state of emergency in several regions.