Experts say storm could move back out to sea and intensify again, as water levels rise
Mozambiques government urged many people to seek higher ground on Saturday in the wake of Cyclone Kenneth, fearing flooding and mudslides in the days ahead as heavy rain lashed the region.
At least five people were killed, the government said. Mozambiques disaster management agency said one person had died in Pemba city and another in hard-hit Macomia district, while residents on Ibo Island said two people had died there. Details of the fifth death were not immediately available.
Nearly 3,500 homes in parts of the countrys northernmost Cabo Delgado province were partially or fully destroyed, with electricity cut, some roads blocked, and at least one collapsed key bridge. Some schools and health centres were damaged. Nearly 700,000 people could be at risk, as many people have been left exposed and hungry as the waters rise.
Theres a very intense strip of destruction where the wind first made impact in coastal districts, Nicholas Finney, a response team leader with the aid group Save the Children, said after visiting Macomia district. The team found people in shock in a region where a cyclone had never been recorded in the modern age. Terrified children and traumatised parents faced a huge task to start to rebuild, he said.
Rain has been forecast for the next several days, and Mozambiques meteorological authority said the storm could potentially move back out to sea and intensify again, Finney added. It doesnt look good, quite honestly, he said of the risk of flooding.
As water levels rose, Mozambican authorities asked residents of Mecufi and Chiure districts and parts of Macomia and Muidumbe districts to seek higher ground. Some rivers in the region have burst their banks in the past, notably in 2000.
Cyclone Kenneth arrived late on Thursday, just six weeks after Cyclone Idai ripped into central Mozambique and killed more than 600 people. This was the first time in recorded history that the southern African nation has been hit by two cyclones in one season, highlighting concerns about climate change.
The remnants of Kenneth, which packed the power of a category-4 hurricane, could dump twice as much rain as Idai did last month, the UN world programme has said.
Some forecasts warned of as much as 250mm (9in) of torrential rain, or about a quarter of the average annual rainfall for the region.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies reported heavy damage to Cabo Delgado province, with the communities of Macomia, Quissanga and Mocmboa da Praia of highest concern.
Communications remained difficult in some areas as authorities and aid groups scrambled to assess the damage, especially in more far-flung communities in the largely rural region.
The situation wasnt worse thanks to awareness-raising work by local authorities, Mozambiques disaster management agency said, while posting photos of buildings where metal roofs had been crumpled or ripped away. Other photos from Macomia showed a mud-walled home that had disintegrated, a bus that appeared to have slid off the road and a toppled electrical pole.
People left homeless were trying to patch together shelters from the rain.
Im looking for someone to lend me a porch so I can clean it up and stay with my family, one Macomia resident, Wild Eusebio, told the Portuguese news agency Lusa.
Another family of 13 people, including eight children, were living in an improvised plastic tent, the report said.
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