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Hundreds Feared Dead After Cyclone Hits Mozambique


In this photo taken Saturday March 16, 2019 and provided by CARE, people walk through the wreckage on the streets of the city of Beira, Mozambique, after Cyclone Idai made landfall. (Josh Estey/CARE via AP)
Hundreds Feared Dead After Cyclone Hits Mozambique
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More than 1,000 people are feared dead in Mozambique four days after a cyclone, or ocean storm, hit the country. Entire villages were left underwater as bodies floated by, the nation's president said.

"It is a real disaster of great proportions," President Filipe Nyusi said.

Cyclone Idai could prove to be Mozambique’s deadliest storm in generations. It struck Thursday night in Beira, an Indian Ocean port of about 500,000 people. The storm's strong winds and heavy rains then moved inland toward Zimbabwe and Malawi.

A woman and child near a school building being used as emergency shelter for some 300 local people who are unable to return to their homes following cyclone force winds and heavy rain in the coastal city of Beira, Mozambique, Sunday March 17, 2019.
A woman and child near a school building being used as emergency shelter for some 300 local people who are unable to return to their homes following cyclone force winds and heavy rain in the coastal city of Beira, Mozambique, Sunday March 17, 2019.

Speaking on state Radio Mozambique, Nyusi said that even though the official death count in his country stood at 84, "It appears that we can register more than 1,000 deaths."

United Nations agencies and the Red Cross helped get emergency food and medicine by helicopter to the affected countries.

Mount Chiluvo, in central Mozambique, was badly hit by flooding. One person there said he heard a loud noise, like an explosion, and suddenly saw a river of mud flowing toward his home.

"I was indoors with my children, but when we looked, we saw mud coming down the road towards the houses and we fled," Francisco Carlitos told Lusa, the Portuguese News Agency.

The family lost their home and possessions.

Nyusi cut short a visit to neighboring Swaziland because of the disaster. He spoke on the radio after flying by helicopter over Beira and two rural provinces. He reported widespread destruction there.

"The waters of the Pungue and Buzi rivers overflowed, making whole villages disappear and isolating communities...," Nyusi said.

This image made available by International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Monday March 18, 2019, shows an aerial view from a helicopter of flooding in Beira, Mozambique.
This image made available by International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Monday March 18, 2019, shows an aerial view from a helicopter of flooding in Beira, Mozambique.

The Red Cross said 90 percent of the city was damaged or destroyed. The cyclone knocked out electricity, shut down the airport and blocked road travel to and from Beira.

The destruction there is "massive and horrifying," said Jamie LeSueur. He led a Red Cross helicopter team investigating the damage.

More than 215 people are confirmed dead from the storm in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Hundreds more are missing.

I’m­­­­­­ Caty Weaver.

The Associated Press reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for VOA Learning English. was the editor.

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Words in This Story

proportions - n. the size, shape, or extent of something (plural)

isolate - v. to put or keep (someone or something) in a place or situation that is separate from others​

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