Nearly 1, 000 people are feared dead after Cyclone Idai swept through Mozambique with 90% of port city Beira reportedly destroyed.
Official figures being reported are that over 200 people have died. However, there are fears more than 1, 000 people have died in Mozambique.
Aid workers have described it as Mozambique’s worst humanitarian crisis since its 15-year civil war, according to the Economist.
Nearly a week after Tropical Cyclone Idai walloped the country’s central coast before churning inland, the full extent of the damage is still unclear.
Beira, a port city of half a million people, was cut off after a massive storm hit on March 14-15th, bringing fierce winds and flooding that destroyed bridges, roads and power lines.
Filipe Nyusi, the president, called it a “disaster of great proportions” and described seeing bodies floating in rivers as he flew over the region by helicopter.
Although the official death toll stands at 84, Mr Nyusi said that the number could rise to more than 1,000 fatalities.
In Zimbabwe’s eastern mountain areas bordering Mozambique, residents struggled to cope with the disaster.
“There was a house there, it was buried and the owners may have been buried with it. They are missing,” said Zacharia Chinyai of the Zimbabwean border town of Chimanimani, who lost 12 relatives in the disaster.
The cyclone took residents by surprise, Chinyai said.
“We heard news on the radio” about the flooding in neighboring Mozambique, he said. “But we never thought we could also be victims. … No one told us it was going to be this devastating.”
Chipo Dhliwayo lost her daughters, 4-year-old Anita and 8-year-old Amanda.
“I wasn’t able to save anything except this baby,” she said of her lone surviving child, a 6-month-old son, who suffered an eye injury and scars to his face.
The family was sleeping when theit house collapsed, the 30-year-old said.
“Trees, rocks and mud were raining on us. I grabbed my son, my husband took Anita and we ran to a hut, but that also collapsed. Anita died there,” she said.
Amanda was trapped in the rubble of their house and her body was not found until the next day.
“I knew she was already dead. I cried the whole night,” Dhliwayo said. “I lost so much that I wish I had just died.”
The cyclone created southern Africa’s most destructive flooding in 20 years, said emergency workers. Heavy rains were expected to continue through Thursday.