Thousands at risk as serious flooding hits Mozambique

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Thousands at risk as serious flooding hits Mozambique

This was the first time in recorded history that the southern African nation has been hit by two cyclones in one season.


People leave their flooded homes in Pemba, on the north-eastern coast of Mozambique (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/PA)
People leave their flooded homes in Pemba, on the north-eastern coast of Mozambique (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/PA)

Serious flooding raged on Sunday in parts of northern Mozambique hit by Cyclone Kenneth three days ago.

The government urged people to immediately seek higher ground. Hundreds of thousands of people were at risk with more rain forecast for days ahead.

“Help us, we are losing everything,” residents in the region’s main city, Pemba, shouted at passing cars as the rushing waters flooded their homes and heavy rain fell. Women and girls with buckets and pots tried to scoop away the torrent.

Houses began to collapse and a rescue team was mobilised, United Nations workers said. “We are unfortunately expecting devastating floods,” the UN humanitarian agency said in a tweet.

Kenneth arrived just six weeks after Cyclone Idai ripped into central Mozambique and killed more than 600 people with flooding.

The new storm’s remnants could dump twice as much rain as Idai, the UN World Programme has said. As much as 9 inches, or about a quarter of the average annual rainfall for the region, had been forecast over the next few days.

“I have never seen such rains in my life,” said one Pemba resident, 35-year-old Michael Fernando. Up to 4 inches were forecast in the next 24 hours for some parts of the region, Mozambique’s meteorological institute said.

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A family scoop water from their flooded home, in Natite neighbourhood in Pemba (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP)

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.

Some Pemba residents tried to pile up tyres and sand-filled sacks as barricades. Children took refuge in a bus that appeared to be stuck as vehicles struggled on the streets. Cars began to slip under the waters.

There was no immediate word of deaths on Sunday. Authorities have 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.

More than 160,000 people have been affected in the largely rural region, many already exposed and hungry. More than 35,000 homes in parts of Mozambique’s northernmost Cabo Delgado were partially or fully destroyed by the storm.

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Cyclone damage in Pemba city (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP)

On Saturday, aerial photos showed several coastal communities flattened by the storm. “Not a single house is standing any more,” said Saviano Abreu, a spokesman for the UN humanitarian agency.

Press Association

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