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More Than 1K Feared Dead in Cyclone Aftermath

'It is a real disaster of great proportions'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 19, 2019 12:07 AM CDT
In this photo taken Saturday March 16, 2019 and provided by CARE, people walk through debris on the streets of the city of Beira, Sofala Province, Mozambique, after Cyclone Idai made landfall.   (Josh Estey/CARE via AP)
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(Newser) – More than 1,000 people are feared dead in Mozambique four days after a cyclone slammed into the country, submerging entire villages and leaving bodies floating in the floodwaters, the nation's president said. "It is a real disaster of great proportions," President Filipe Nyusi said. Cyclone Idai could prove to be the deadliest storm in generations to hit the impoverished southeast African country of 30 million people. It struck Beira, an Indian Ocean port city of a half-million people, late Thursday and then moved inland to Zimbabwe and Malawi with strong winds and heavy rain. But it took days for the scope of the disaster to come into focus in Mozambique, which has a poor communication and transportation network and an inefficient bureaucracy, the AP reports.

Speaking on state Radio Mozambique, Nyusi said that while the official death toll stood at 84, "It appears that we can register more than 1,000 deaths." Emergency officials cautioned that while they expect the death toll to rise significantly, they have no way of knowing if it will reach the president's estimate. Doctors Without Borders said rivers have broken their banks, leaving many houses fully submerged and around 11,000 households displaced in Nsanje, in southern Malawi. The Red Cross says Beira suffered "massive and horrifying damage," with 90% of the city damaged or destroyed. The cyclone knocked out electricity, shut down the airport, and cut off access to the city by road.

(Read more Mozambique stories.)

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