PEMBA – Rescuers raced to help people caught in rising flood waters in cyclone-hit northern Mozambique yesterday as houses collapsed and heavy rains raised fears of worse to come.
Cyclone Kenneth first slammed into the province of Cabo Delgado late on Thursday, flattening entire villages with winds of up to 280 kph (174 mph) and storm surges – the second cyclone to hit the country in six weeks.
Floods and rains that followed sent brown water coursing through the streets of the province’s main city Pemba and submerged roads leading to remote areas to the north and south.
The Mozambican government has put the initial death count at five. But rescuers said there were fears for the safety of thousands of families cut off after rivers burst their banks outside the city.
Flights and helicopters were grounded, making access “virtually impossible”, said Nicholas Finney from Save The Children.
In Pemba, mud homes had started to collapse under the pressure of the water, the United Nations humanitarian agency OCHA said.
Residents tried to bail water out of their houses with plastic buckets. Others stacked sandbags outside or waded through waist-high floods in the torrential rain.
Video footage showed a line of cars forming on the main road out of the coastal city. A section of the route was under water.
Rescue workers evacuated at least 130 people to centres, mostly by boat, said Salviano Abreu, spokesman for the UN’s humanitarian arm.
Mozambique is still recovering from cyclone Idai that hit further south last month and moved into neighbouring Zimbabwe and Malawi, killing more than 1 000 people.
It is the first time on record that two such powerful cyclones have hit Mozambique in so short a space of time. (Reuters)