Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi affected in the ‘worst disaster to hit the region’
At least 120 people have died and many more are missing after Cyclone Idai hit Southern Africa on March 15 and March 16, 2019.
Coming in from the Indian Ocean in the east, Idai hit Mozambique first on the night of March 14, 2019, before moving to Zimbabwe and Malawi.
The World Food Programme said its projections indicated that at least 1.7 million people were in the direct path of the cyclone in Mozambique, and 920,000 people were affected in Malawi. “Thousands more are potentially impacted by events in Zimbabwe where assessments are ongoing”, it said. The United Nations in Zimbabwe said that nearly 10,000 were affected by the cyclone.
In Mozambique, the official death toll has risen to 62 in the centre of the country, while in Zimbabwe, 65 people have been killed in the affected eastern areas, particularly the Chimanimani district. Mozambique's environment minister Celso Correia told news agency AFP, “We will certainly end with a higher toll.”
The damage to infrastructure has also been immense. In Mozambique’s port city of Beira, 80 per cent of the electricity network has been destroyed. According to Correia, all roads have been cut and infrastructure has been destroyed. Beira’s airport, which had briefly shut down after its roof was destroyed by the cyclone, began to function again on March 17, 2019.
In Zimbabwe’s Chimanimani, soldiers rescued 200 pupils, teachers and staff who had been trapped at a school on March 17. Idai is the second tragedy to hit Zimbabwe after more than 40 illegal gold miners became trapped after a flash flood in February. Twenty-four of them died.
Prior to the cyclone, heavy rains in early March had killed 66 people in Mozambique and 56 in Malawi.
On March 15, the Indian Navy diverted ships to Mozambique for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief work.
Twitter has been awash with videos from the affected areas:
"We are deeply aggrieved as a nation by the loss of lives due to CycloneIdai. Our special forces are doing all they can to assist the victims"— Weldon N Matambo (@weldon_dott) March 18, 2019
-President ED Mnangagwa pic.twitter.com/lHd6AQfvXf
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