Cyclone Idai, which hit the Mozambican city of Beira, left an estimated 90% of the area damaged, said the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Monday, citing an initial assessment by a team of its aid workers.
The IFRC said the death toll from the impact of the cyclone, which has also affected neighbouring Malawi and Zimbabwe, is currently estimated at 150.
Jamie LeSueur, who is leading the IFRC assessment team into Beira, said after an aerial inspection: “The situation is terrible. The scale of devastation is enormous. It seems that 90% of the area is completely destroyed.”
The IFRC team was among the first to arrive in Beira on Sunday since Idai made landfall around March 14 and 15. With Beira’s airport closed, the team drove from Mozambique’s capital Maputo before taking a helicopter for the last part of the journey. Roads into Beira have been cut off by flooding.
“Almost everything is destroyed. Communication lines have been completely cut and roads have been destroyed. Some affected communities are not accessible,” said LeSueur.
“Beira has been severely battered. But we are also hearing that the situation outside the city could be even worse. Yesterday, a large dam burst and cut off the last road to the city.”
Following its landfall in Mozambique, cyclone Idai continued west into Zimbabwe as a tropical storm, wreaking havoc in several districts in the eastern part, with Chimanimani and Chipinge districts in Manicaland province being the hardest-hit.
At least 31 deaths have been reported and over 100 people are missing in Zimbabwe, the IFRC said.
The aid group has already released about 340,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund which will go towards an initial response effort for about 7,500 people.
The IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 191 national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working around the globe.
– African News Agency