The death toll in storm-hit northern Mozambique has jumped to 38 after Cyclone Kenneth battered the country last week, according to officials, with aid workers struggling to reach some of the worst-affected areas.
Mozambique’s National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC) announced in its latest update on Monday that an earlier death toll of five had been revised up, adding that about 35,000 homes were damaged or wiped out by the cyclone and the rising floodwaters unleashed in its wake.
The cyclone made landfall on Thursday in the country’s northernmost Cabo Delgado province, bringing with it torrential rains and wind gusts of more than 200 kilometres per hour. The devastation has affected more than 160,000 people to date, according to INGC estimates.
Before battering Mozambique’s shores it slammed into the Comoros, an archipelago off Africa’s southeastern coast, killing four people, according to an update by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Picking Up A Million Pieces After A Rare And Angry Storm
The remnant of one family’s house in the town of Macomia in Mozambique after Cyclone Kenneth hit on Thursday. It was the second intense cyclone to strike the country in six weeks.Tommy Trenchard for NPR
Imagine your house is gone. And yet the TV set is still standing.
That’s one of the scenes that photojournalist Tommy Trenchard documented as he visited parts of Mozambique hit by Cyclone Kenneth on Thursday.
A TV is still standing — but probably not working — in the cyclone-damaged home of Tamazina Carlos in Macomia.Tommy Trenchard for NPR
Tamazina Carlos sits outside the remains of her house. The school assistant escaped just before the ceiling caved in. Since the cyclone hit on Thursday she has been sleeping under a pile of palm fronds.Tommy Trenchard for NPR
Winds reportedly blew up to 174 miles per hour.
More than 20 inches of rain fell over a couple of days — and another 20 inches is forecast this week.
This man is wading from house to house in the Wimbi neighborhood of the city Pemba, one of the hardest hit by flooding. He and others helped residents bring their possessions to higher ground.Tommy Trenchard for NPR
After the cyclone knocked out a bridge in Macomia, people worked to build a makeshift replacement out of logs and planks.Tommy Trenchard for NPR
Houses were obliterated, roads turned into rivers and the death toll now stands at 38.
The storm struck some six weeks after Cyclone Idai, touching down in a different part of the country — in the north. Both cyclones are rare events. According to the World Meteorological Organization, “there is no record of two storms of such intensity striking Mozambique in the same season.”
A man stands in his wrecked home in Macomia.Tommy Trenchard for NPR
And so a country already in the throes of a humanitarian disaster — the World Bank puts a $2 billion price tag on the recovery effort for Idai — is reeling again.
Trenchard traveled north from the city of Pemba to Macomia and surrounding villages, “where the destruction is incredibly severe,” he says. “It was overwhelming to see the visual chaos — the mess of fallen trees, belongings, collapsed homes.”
A man tries to cut up a tree that has crushed part of his house in Macomia.Tommy Trenchard for NPR
Despite the destruction he saw people “calmly getting their lives back in order. Of course there’s shock and despair, but you also see incredible stoicism and resilience. Amid the carnage there are even small glimpses of normal life going on. In Macomia, two days after the storm, some shops had already reopened even though they no longer had a roof or four walls.”
People walk along a main road in Macomia past power lines downed by Cyclone Kenneth. Vehicles could just about get through by driving on the side of the road.Tommy Trenchard for NPR