The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) teams in northern Mozambique have reported serious damage in towns and communities that bore the brunt of Cyclone Kenneth overnight.
This comes after the cyclone made landfall with wind speeds of up to 231 kilometres per hour, which is almost the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane.
Initial reports from Quissanga indicate extensive damage to houses, while communication with Macomia and Muidumbe remains down, the organisation reported.
Relief delegate with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Nampula, Antonio Carabante, said: “These are initial reports, but they are quite concerning. We are being told that the wind caused quite a lot of damage. We are worried, especially about people living in communities that we have not yet heard from. We are working to open lines of communication, and to get personnel and supplies to where they are needed.”
The situation is likely to be compounded in coming days by expected torrential rains. Some predictions suggest that Kenneth could drop as much as 250mm of water over the weekend – equivalent to about a quarter of average annual rainfall for the region.
“While attention is often given to wind speed, we know from experience that it is rainfall – and subsequent flooding and landslides – that can be even more dangerous from a humanitarian perspective. This was certainly the case for Cyclone Idai.
“The terrain in many affected communities are precarious – many of these areas are prone to flooding and landslides in normal rainfall, and this is far from a normal situation,” said Carabante.
The districts of Macomia, Quissanga, Mocimboa da Praia and Mecufi are expected to experience the worst of the rainfall, according to meteorologists.
Red Cross staff and volunteers across southern Tanzania and northern Mozambique have been helping communities prepare in anticipation of Cyclone Kenneth’s landfall.
According to Red Cross, its Red Crescent colleagues in Comoros have already supported search and rescue efforts, providing urgent first aid. Red Crescent teams have reported that more than 1,200 people are affected so far with this number expected to rise as homes and crops are damaged and destroyed across the islands.
IFRC has launched an Emergency Appeal for 31 million Swiss francs to support the Mozambique Red Cross to provide 200,000 people with emergency assistance following Cyclone Idai over the next 24 months.
“IFRC is also supporting Tanzania, Comoros, and northern Mozambique, deploying experts to support local efforts in assessing and responding to the immediate needs on the ground,” said Carabante.
– African News Agency (ANA)