Mozambique lashed by storm rains

A powerful cyclone smashed into Mozambique on Thursday, barely a month after a previous cyclone killed hundreds and devastated large areas.

Cyclone Kenneth hit with winds of 220km/h (140mph), flattening thousands of homes and flooding low-lying areas.

The storm was then downgraded as winds fell but heavy rains followed and are expected to last for days to come.

Mozambique was still recovering from Cyclone Idai, which killed more than 900 across three countries in March.

One person was reported dead in Mozambique after being crushed by a falling coconut tree. The cyclone had already killed three people on the island nation of Comoros.

Winds eased on Friday, but France’s meteorological agency said 600-800mm of rain was expected to land on Mozambique over coming days.

Aid agencies have raised concerns about the effect of the coming rain on communities prone to flooding and landslides.

The level of rainfall expected is nearly double the 10-day accumulated rainfall that caused devastating flooding in the port city of Beira, further south, during Cyclone Idai.

The UN’s World Food Programme said it was working on an “emergency preparedness plan” with the Mozambican government and other humanitarian groups.

Mozambique’s National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC) said 30,000 people had been evacuated from affected areas, and reports from northern Mozambique said many homes had collapsed and the provincial capital of Pemba had lost its power supply.

Kenneth made landfall on Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado on Thursday evening, with wind speeds equivalent to a category four hurricane. Communications with the affected areas were disrupted, obscuring the full extent of the damage.

There is no previous record of hurricane-force systems ever hitting the region so far north before, according to a BBC Weather analysis.

Thousands remain away from their homes after compulsory evacuation procedures put into place by authorities.

Cabo Delgado province is not as densely populated as the area hit by Cyclone Idai, and there is apparently more high ground there.

That, in addition to warnings by authorities ahead of the storm, could significantly stem losses compared with Cyclone Idai.

But reports said many thousands of homes had been flattened by the winds, and the area has been hit by Islamist violence in recent months, which could complicate humanitarian operations.

Thousands of people had already fled their homes to seek shelter from violence in camps for displaced people. –BBC

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