By Arnaldo Cuamba
It is until today the most violent cyclone to reach Mozambican territory since 2000. It had its first contact with the land through the central region of the country on Thursday, 15, causing deaths and destruction wherever it passed.
Torrential rains and high winds were expected, but no one expected the magnitude of the impact of the calamity, which obligated the President of the Republic, Filipe Nyusi, to shorten the visit of the state that was making to Eswatini.
Five days after reaching the country, 202 deaths were confirmed, a figure that for Nyusi was only a preliminary, since government forecasts showed more than 1000 deaths.
The Intense Tropical Cyclone (IDAI), category 4, entered the mainland along the coast of Sofala province, Beira, the country’s second largest city, which apparently was destroyed by more than 90%, according to the Red Cross, which describes the impact as having been “terrible.” The Cyclone also affected the provinces of Manica, Tete, Zambézia and Inhambane.
“The brutal force of water was such that it destroyed what was unthinkable for us to happen,” Mozambican Minister of Public Works, Housing and Water Resources, Joao Machatine commented on the destruction of the brand new National Road No. 6, linking the Port of Beira to the hinterland countries, which platform Machatine said it had “consistency that was supposed to withstand any kind of inclement weather.”
The preliminary balance also indicates more than 350,000 people at risk of life, destruction of 23,000 houses, 616 classrooms, bridges, 30 sanitary units and other public and private infrastructures, cut off electricity supply, devastation of agricultural fields in a total of 234,171 ha, collapsing of telecommunications towers, leaving the region with telephone and internet communications deficits.
“It is a veritable humanitarian disaster of great proportions”, Nyusi described the situation in declaration to the nation transmitted by the state television channel, Televisao de Mocambique. “Everything is destroyed,” added the Minister of Environment and Rural Development, Celso Correia.
World Food Program (WFP) spokeswoman Hervé Verhoosel told AFP that he did not think “the world had already realized the real scale of the problem”
The cyclone formed on March 4 in the Mozambique Channel and arrived in the country accompanied by strong winds that reached between 180 and 220 km / hour and heavy rains exceeding 160 mm, causing sudden floods.
In the Nhamatanda district, Sofala province, there was a flood of rivers due to increased water flow in the Búzi and Púnguè Basins, according to Nyusi after having flown over the hardest hit areas.
“The waters of the Pungwe and Búzi rivers overflowed making entire villages disappear and isolated communities, bodies are seen floating, and roads totally surrounded by the waters” he said.
In a river in the province of Manica were found on Tuesday, 19, exactly 10 bodies of people who tried to cross the river running from the heavy rains. Several people were on Wednesday, 20, still hanging on buildings and trees crying for help.
The United Nations concedes that the IDAI disaster may be the worst in the Southern Hemisphere.
In order to minimize the suffering of displaced populations, several national and international teams are already in the affected areas to provide assistance to victims who, despite the cyclone, continue to suffer from heavy rains.
In view of the inaccessibility of the land routes, India decided to divert three naval vessels to the port city of Beira to provide immediate assistance to those affected. The three carry food, clothing and medicines, in addition to three doctors and five nurses to provide immediate medical care.
South Africa has sent more than 100 divers supported by three helicopters that are involved in the process of rescue of several families that are under siege due to the increase of the flow of the rivers Búzi and Púnguè. The World Food Program, which coordinates the United Nations humanitarian response in Mozambique, has made a temporary appeal of some $ 40 million.
The European Union has provided 150,000 euros to the Red Cross of Mozambique, while Portuguese Caritas, an official organization of the Catholic Church in Portugal for social charity, has announced the sending of 25,000 euros.
France has decided to send 60 tonnes of material (3000 habitat reconstruction kits and 6000 tents). The French NGO Télécom sans frontière has allowed the re-establishment of communication via the internet at Beira airport, thus ensuring the operation of relief operations.
A UN food aid plane landed on Sunday, 17, in the city of Beira, with 22 tons of biscuits enriched to feed 22,000 people for three days.
Meanwhile, in the social networks, there are already several appeals and fund raising organized by the Mozambicans themselves to help the victims of Cyclone Idai.
However, the impact of the cyclone is being surveyed. For now, the Mozambican government estimates that 600,000 people have been affected, but data from the WFP, based on satellite images, indicate that 1.7 million people were on the Cyclone course.