May 20, 2019

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Cyclone Kenneth Pounds Mozambique, Killing at Least 5

Cyclone Kenneth Pounds Mozambique, Killing at Least 5
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JOHANNESBURG — Cyclone Kenneth dumped heavy rains in northern Mozambique on Sunday, flooding parts of a provincial capital, prompting evacuations and complicating efforts by rescuers to reach remote areas. The storm has killed at least five people so far, the government said.

Many roads were washed out, and aid officials said they had been able to reach some badly affected areas only by helicopter.

Rains were heaviest in Pemba, the capital of Cabo Delgado Province, which lost power. Rescue teams were evacuating residents, and 4,500 people have sought shelter in refuge centers.

The situation “is a bit worrying right now,” Saviano Abreu, a spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said from Pemba.

Residents were forced to walk knee-deep in flooded streets, and rescue efforts were hampered by the extreme weather conditions.

Déborah Nguyen, a spokeswoman for the World Food Program, said from Pemba, “It’s going to challenge the humanitarian situation.”

The cyclone, packing winds of 140 miles per hour, made landfall in northern Mozambique on Thursday evening in a region of southern Africa unaccustomed to such storms. Though the deadly cyclone weakened rapidly and moved to less-populated areas north of Pemba, it has so far displaced 163,000 people, destroyed nearly 30,000 homes and sent nearly 24,000 into shelters, according to the World Food Program.

Officials express concern that worse could be ahead. Many fear a repeat of the mass floods that killed some 600 people last month in central Mozambique; Cyclone Idai, unleashed rains that caused two rivers to overflow into towns and villages, stranding many others for days on rooftops and trees.

In recent days, northern Mozambique has recorded eight times the average rainfall for the period, according to the World Food Program, and heavy rains were expected to last for at least three more days.

“It is a dramatic situation that may get worse in the coming days,” Octávio de Sousa, a project manager at the charity CARE Mozambique, said from Pemba.

A team from the charity managed on Sunday to gain access to one of the areas hit hardest, Macomia, a district in Cabo Delgado, where 103,000 people were believed to have been affected by the storm, Mr. de Sousa said.

“Affected families have lost everything,” he added. “Their homes have been completely destroyed, and they urgently need assistance.”



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