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Cyclone Idai: Fears for 500,000 people, 90 percent of Mozambique city destroyed

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Staff Writer | March 19, 2019
Cyclone Idai
Africa   The cyclone slammed as a high-end Category 2 storm

Fears are growing for more than 500,000 people in the Mozambique city of Beira, after aid agency officials warned that 90% of the area had been "destroyed" by Cyclone Idai.

The cyclone slammed into the southeast African country as a high-end Category 2 storm with 175 kph (110 mph winds) at midnight Thursday, causing widespread devastation, before moving inland into Zimbabwe and Malawi.

In an address on national radio Monday, Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi warned that while the official death toll stood at 84, "everything indicates that we can have a record of more than 1,000 dead."

Nyusi described seeing "bodies floating" in the water after two rivers broke their banks "wiping out entire villages " and isolating others. "It's a real humanitarian disaster of large proportions," said Nyusi.

If Nyusi's estimated death toll is confirmed, Tropical Cyclone Idai would be the deadliest tropical cyclone on record to have hit southern Africa.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said there was no power in Beira and surrounding areas, and nearly all communication lines had been destroyed.

"Main roads leading into Beira have been cut off, buildings have been submerged and severely damaged, and all business has been shut down," said the aid agency, adding that "medical activities in Beira hospital, in local health centers, and throughout the community have ceased completely."

Though the cyclone hit Mozambique on Thursday, the extent of the damage has taken days to come into focus due in part to the country's poor infrastructure.


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