Mozambique Fears 'Devastating' Floods After Cyclone Kenneth
In the wake of the death and devastation wrought by Cyclone Kenneth, tens of thousands of people in the far north of Mozambique now face the threat of violent flooding as torrential rain dangerously pushes up water levels.
The first flooding was already seen in some parts of Pemba, the capital of Cabo Delgado province, as well as in surrounding areas, after heavy rain lashed down since daybreak, AFP journalists reported.
Fields on the outskirts of the city that had been lush green just a day earlier were now brown with floodwater.
"It's been raining hard since Sunday morning. Violent flooding is expected in and around Pemba," said Deborah Nguyen, spokeswoman for the UN World Food Programme.
"We are very worried because, according to the forecasts, heavy rain is expected for the next four days," she said.
"We expect the rainfall to be twice as much as that which accompanied Cyclone Idai that hit the city of Beira last month."
Idai hit central Mozambique six weeks ago and communities in that region are still reeling from floods that swept away homes, roads and bridges, leaving around 1,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands without shelter.
This time, around 1,000 kilometres further north, the city of Pemba and its 400,000 inhabitants face similar dangers.
'We are scared '
"Houses started to collapse in Natite neighbourhood, according to the rescue team operating there. We are unfortunately expecting devastating floods as consequence of #CycloneKenneth'," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a tweet on Sunday.
According to figures provided by the Mozambique authorities to NGOs, around 200,000 people in Pemba are in danger.
In the small village of Mieze, around 20 kilometres to the south west, dozens of people gathered hoping to be rescued by boat.
"We are worried about the floods worsening because we don't know where they will go," Filomeno Sira, 45, whose home is one kilometre from the growing Mieze floodplain, told AFP.
"The government said we have to go to the top of the hill if the water continues to rise -â€” and we'll go. We are scared because we don't know."
On Saturday, Mozambique's Prime Minister, Carlos do Rosario, put the preliminary death toll so far at five. More than 3,300 homes were either partly or completely destroyed, according to the National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC).
A number of UN agencies have deployed intervention teams in Pemba.
To the north of the provincial capital, the town of Macomia was counting the cost of the storm on Sunday, with homes and businesses destroyed, roofs torn off, trees and electric pylons uprooted.
"We had information of the storm from the weather service but we didn't realise the scale of the cyclone until it hit," Macomia's mayor, Fernando Neves, told AFP.
"As you can see we are now trying to rebuild our lives after this storm and return to normality... It's very hard."
In the town centre, medical personnel were having to make do with what they had, with no electricity and no medicine.
"This patient has not eaten and we don't have anti-malarials," said Joaquim Benedito, a nurse at the Macomia Health Center, gesturing to Nordine Joao, a frail-looking 15-year-old malaria patient being treated in a supply cupboard.
"He was sleeping outside when the cyclone came."
The region hit by Cyclone Kenneth is a lot more sparsely populated than Beira, which was hit by Cyclone Idai in mid-March.
But the region has also been hard hit by deadly raids by a jihadist group over the past 18 months that the army has been unable to control.
Before smashing into Mozambique, Kenneth passed by the Comoros islands.
As well as leaving at least five people dead, some 41,161 people have so far been affected by the cyclone, with 14,541 displaced and 189 injured, according to a toll provided by the head of the local rescue services, Ismael Mugne Daho, on Saturday.