A week after Cyclone Idai hit coastal Mozambique and swept across the country to Zimbabwe, the death, damage, and flooding continue in southern Africa, making it one of the most destructive natural disasters in the region’s recent history.
Floodwaters are rushing across the plains of central Mozambique, submerging homes, villages and entire towns. The flooding has created a muddy inland ocean 50 kilometers (31 miles) wide where there used to be farms and villages, giving credence to Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi’s estimate that 1,000 people may have been killed.
A man stands in floodwaters following cyclone-force winds and heavy rain near the coastal city of Beira, Mozambique,
Torrential rains lifted — at least temporarily — Thursday, and floodwaters began to recede in Beira, the worst-hit city, and in the countryside, according to a Mozambican government report.
Aid groups were working non-stop to rescue families clinging to tree branches and rooftops for safety from the surging waters.
“Yesterday, 910 people were rescued by the humanitarian community,” said Caroline Haga of the International Federation of the Red Cross in Beira. She said 210 were rescued by five helicopters and 700 were saved by boats.
“We’re hoping to rescue as many as we can today as it is not raining,” she said. “Rescue activities will continue until everyone is brought to safety.”
Flood waters dominate the landscape
Hundreds are dead, many more missing and thousands at risk from massive flooding in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe caused by Cyclone Idai and persistent rains.
Aid organizations are trying to get food, water, and clothing. It will be days before Mozambique’s inundated plains drain toward the Indian Ocean and even longer before the full scale of the devastation is known.
Zimbabwe’s eastern mountains have been deluged and the rain is continuing.