Maputo [Mozambique]:The Mozambican government on Monday said that at least 38 people have lost their lives so far in the devastating trail of destruction left by Cyclone Kenneth, which made landfall in Mozambique and Comoros last week.
Four people have also died in the island nation of Comoros, CNN reported while citing the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Cyclone Kenneth is the second powerful tropical storm to hit southeast Africa in five weeks after Cyclone Idai killed nearly 1000 last month.
Meteorological experts fear that though the recent cyclone is slow-moving, it could continue to dump torrential rains on an area still reeling from the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai that led to an estimated one billion dollars worth of damage, cumulating to about 10 per cent of Mozambique’s GDP in March.
Forecasters told CNN that northern Mozambique could witness up to 500 millimetres of rain (about 20 inches) over the next five days, which could intensify the flooding.
“The soil is saturated with rain and the rivers are already swollen, so the emergency is likely to get worse,” said Michel Le Pechoux, UNICEF’s deputy representative in Mozambique.
“We’re doing everything we can to get teams and supplies on the ground to keep people safe,” he was quoted, as saying.
Meanwhile, Save the Children, a UK-based non-profit organisation, said in a statement that the storm “has caused extensive damage, ripping homes apart and wiping out entire communities,” adding that current conditions have made it extremely difficult to deliver aid to those in need.
“We have grave fears for the thousands of families currently taking shelter under the wreckage of their homes. They urgently need food, water and shelter to survive the coming days,” the statement read.
Nicholas Finney, Save the Children’s response team leader in Mozambique, said that the NGO tried to reach some of the hard-hit areas on Sunday but were forced to turn back “because rivers had burst their banks and the roads were under water.”
“Flights and helicopters have also been grounded and this means humanitarian access is virtually impossible. We are desperately trying to look for ways to deliver emergency supplies,” Finney added.
The United Nations’ disaster response agency has pledged to release USD 13 million to pay for food, shelter, health, water, and sanitation assistance in both Comoros and Mozambique.
“The funds will help in reducing the suffering of the affected people including mitigating the impact on food security caused by the destruction and loss of farmland, livestock and fisheries, in addition to the damage and destruction of homes,” said Mark Lowcock, United Nation’s emergency relief coordinator.
Last week, Mozambique’s natural disaster management said nearly 3,400 homes were destroyed and more than 18,000 were displaced in the wake of Cyclone Kenneth.