Hermínio José in Maputo, Mozambique and Vatican News Africa Service – Vatican City
Cyclone Idai made landfall on Mozambique, Thursday.
On Thursday and Friday, several regions of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe were battered by the storm.
City of Beira destroyed by the storm
Tropical Cyclone Idai cut off Beira, which has a population of more than 500,000 people. The city’s infrastructure has been severely damaged. According to Reuters, "The scale of devastation (in Beira) is enormous. It seems that 90 per cent of the area is completely destroyed," said Jamie LeSueur, leader of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) team there.
In all about 215 people have been killed in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. More than 1.5 million people in Southern African countries are affected. The Mozambican government fears the death toll could reach even 1 000.
In Zimbabwe, Reuters reports that the Chimanimani district has been cut off from the rest of the country by torrential rains and winds of up to 170 km per hour that swept away roads, homes and bridges and knocked out power and communication lines.
The Malawi government declared a state of emergency after more than 50 people died and hundreds of thousands were displaced by flooding according to local media. Both the Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi and the Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa cut short foreign trips and returned home to to deal with emergencies.
The Church’s deep sense of sorrow
In an interview with Vatican News, Secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique, the Bishop of the Diocese of Pemba in Cabo Delgado, Luiz Fernando Lisboa, spoke of the Church’s deep sense of sorrow for bereaved families.
In February year of 2000, Cyclone Eline hit Mozambique when it was already devastated by its worst floods in three decades. It killed 350 people and made 650,000 homeless across southern Africa.