41 dead and 169 000 affected as Tropical Cyclone “Kenneth” hits Mozambique


Tropical Cyclone "Kenneth" has continued to batter parts of Mozambique with heavy rain after the storm made landfall on April 25, 2019 with maximum sustained winds of 220 km/h (140 mph). This made it the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale – the first such cyclone to hit the province since records began 60 years ago. Kenneth is the second powerful tropical storm to hit southeast Africa in 6 weeks. It made landfall as the country was still struggling with the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, which hit further south. 

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) described it as the strongest cyclone to ever lash the continent and predicted further heavy rain over the coming days.

"Cyclone Kenneth made landfall at the end of the rainy season, when river levels were already high, increasing the risk of river flooding," the UN agency said in its latest update.

According to figures provided by the Mozambique authorities to NGOs, around 200 000 people in Pemba city, the capital of Cabo Delgado, are in danger.

According to the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC) of Mozambique, as of April 29, 38 people are dead, 39 injured, 20 720 sheltered in 30 accommodation centers and 168 254 affected. The death toll rose to 41 on May 1.

34 964 buildings are damaged or destroyed (2 930 totally and 32 034 partially).

Several areas of Pemba, the capital of the northern province of Cabo Delgado, were completely flooded. In the most deprived areas, houses had collapsed, and flash floods left mud and debris all over the streets. Children are not at present attending schools, and school buildings are being used as shelters. Many families have lost all their property, including plantations and livestock, according to UN agencies.

"The heavy rains following Cyclone Kenneth which hit the northern part of the country five days ago, have paused around Pemba, and aid workers are working as fast as they can to prepare flights to deliver aid," Jens Laerke, spokesperson of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Tuesday, April 30.

He also said that the pause in rains is just temporary as 'aid workers will also do further damage and needs assessments while they can as more rain is expected in the coming days, turning the response into a start-stop operation.'

Many families have lost all their property, including plantations and livestock, according to UN agencies.

Charlie Yaxley from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported that their team in the area was evaluating the needs of the communities in the aftermath of the storm, noting that assistance is on its way. Nonetheless, people still need shelter, food, and water supply, as well as 'utensils – such as plates, pans, forks, spoons, and knives. Women were also asking for hygiene kits,' Yaxley said. He noted that 'comprehensive help' was needed in Pemba as 'a number of houses are damaged and will need repairing.'

The World Food Programme (WFP) has reached 11 500 beneficiaries with food assistance since cyclone Kenneth first hit the northern province of Cabo Delgado, and continues emergency efforts to reach more people. Hervé Verhoosel told journalists that WFP has been using two MI-8 helicopters to transport food to areas that are increasingly difficult to reach due to flooding but operations started on Saturday and are currently ongoing.

Featured image credit: Copernicus EU


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