Aid Groups Scramble to Assess Mozambique Storm Damage

Aid groups scrambled Saturday to assess the damage in northern Mozambique as heavy rains fueled fears of flooding and mudslides two days after the second cyclone hit the southern African country within six weeks.

Cyclone Kenneth made landfall Thursday, with sustained winds of 220 kilometers per hour, prompting aid group warnings of massive flooding and mudslides that could put nearly 700,000 people in southern Africa at risk.

Emergency workers arrived Saturday morning in Pemba, a port town and the capital of the country’s Cabo Delgado Province, to assess the damage. Authorities said almost 3,500 homes in the most northern part of the province were damaged or destroyed.

After an assessment was done in the province’s Macomia district, Daw Mohamed of the global humanitarian aid group CARE said, “The entire area is a scene of vast destruction,” and that people were in need of food, water and shelter.

In addition to heavy damage in the Macomia community, aid groups said the communities of Quissanga and Mocimboa da Praia were also of great concern.

Aid agencies said they continued to struggle to reach victims amid the heavy downpours and that rescuers were hindered by damaged infrastructure, poor communications and the lack of transportation.

“We need a lot of support,” said Captain Kleber Castro, who is with a Brazilian team assisting with the rescue efforts. “If you can help us, we need support from helicopters.”

The government said Kenneth claimed the lives of at least five people including a woman in Pemba, who was killed by a falling tree. Before reaching Mozambique, Kenneth swept over the island nation of Comoros, killing three people. Information about the fifth death was not immediately available.

The government also said about 90 percent of the homes on the island of Ibo, home to about 6,000 people, were destroyed.

Kenneth pounded Mozambique barely a month after Cyclone Idai struck the country, killing more than 1,000 people in Mozambique and in neighboring Zimbabwe and Malawi.

The U.N. labeled Idai as “one of the deadliest storms on record in the southern hemisphere.” This is the first time in recorded history that Mozambique was hit by two cyclones in one season, further raising concerns about climate change.

As communities in Mozambique are still reeling from Idai, residents and emergency workers are bracing for remnants of Kenneth, which could continue to dump twice as much as rain as Idai did in the coming days, the U.N. said. Some forecasters warn as much as 250 millimeters (10 inches) of rain, about one-fourth of the average annual rainfall for the region, could deluge the region.

Source: Voice of America

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