Hundreds of people are feared dead after Cyclone Idai ripped through countries in southern Africa including Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique.
More than 150 people are thought to have been killed in the three countries, the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) said on Monday, warning that the death toll may rise following a complete assessment of the destruction.
Cyclone Idai has caused “massive and horrifying” damage in the Central Mozambican city of Beira — which has been cut off from the rest of the country — the IFRC said in a statement.
“The situation is terrible. The scale of devastation is enormous,” said Jamie LeSueur, who is leading IFRC’s assessment team in the city.
“Almost everything is destroyed. Communication lines have been completely cut, and roads have been destroyed. Some affected communities are not accessible,” LeSueur, who is heading the organization’s investigations into the damage, said in a statement.
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has declared a state of disaster in affected areas, the country’s Information Ministry said.
More than 80 people have died, and dozens are still missing in the wake of the cyclone which triggered floods and rains sweeping away hundreds of homes in the eastern and western parts of Zimbabwe, authorities there said.
On Monday, the ministry shared pictures of some pupils rescued from a boarding school in Chimanimani District, one of the worst-affected areas in the east of the country. Bridges were swept away, and power and communication lines cut off in the area.
The cyclone made its landfall near Beira, Mozambique, around midnight Thursday night and moved through neighboring Zimbabwe and some parts of Malawi.
The cyclone comes a week after severe flooding — associated with the same storm system that later became Cyclone Idai — affected 1.5 million people in Mozambique and Malawi, killing at least 120 people in both countries, UN officials said.