Rain grounds aid flights in cyclone-hit Mozambique

Reuters
Pemba, Mozambique Published: Apr 29, 2019, 05:43 PM(IST)

A motorcyclist rides through pools of water in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Rescuers managed to use a brief break in the downpours to send one helicopter to the island of Ibo, where the storm flattened hundreds of homes - the second cyclone to hit the country in less than six weeks.

Rains grounded aid flights in northern Mozambique for a second day on Monday, leaving communities in remote areas cut off with few supplies in the aftermath of Cyclone Kenneth.

Rescuers managed to use a brief break in the downpours to send one helicopter to the island of Ibo, where the storm flattened hundreds of homes - the second cyclone to hit the country in less than six weeks.

But rains started again later in the morning and conditions were too dangerous for another flight to take off, the United Nations said. Roads to rural districts further north were swamped by water and impassable after torrential rains on Sunday.

"Unfortunately the weather conditions are changing too fast and threatening the operation," said Saviano Abreu, a spokesman for the United Nations' humanitarian arm OCHA.

Cyclone Kenneth slammed into Comoros then Mozambique's province of Cabo Delgado on Thursday with storm surges and winds of up to 280 kph - stretching resources in a region still recovering from Cyclone Idai which struck further south in March.

Heavy rains then pounded Mozambique's north, an area prone to floods and landslides. Four people died in Comoros, the United Nations said, while the official death toll in Mozambique currently stands at five.

But information about the scale of the flooding in more remote districts remained scant on Monday. In the port city of Pemba at least, waters had started to recede, Abreu said.

Water was still waist-deep in some neighbourhoods. One man ferried residents in a wooden boat. Others just waded through the deluge, some carrying belongings on their heads.

Idai destroyed the port city of Beira and submerged entire villages, vast swathes of land and 700,000 hectares of crops. It killed over 1,000 people across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Forecasters predicted Kenneth could drop twice as much rain as Idai on Mozambique's north. Authorities urged people living near rivers to move to higher ground over the weekend.

The United Nations said it had released $13 million in emergency funds for Mozambique and Comoros to provide food and water and repair infrastructure.

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