Quantcast

At Least 150 Dead, 1.5 Million Impacted as Cyclone Idai Slams Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe

Climate
A car destroyed by Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique. ADRIEN BARBIER / AFP / Getty Images

At least 150 people have died in a cyclone that devastated parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi over the weekend, The Associated Press reported Sunday. Cyclone Idai has affected more than 1.5 million people since it hit Mozambique's port city of Beira late Thursday, then traveled west to Zimbabwe and Malawi. Hundreds are still missing and tens of thousands are without access to roads or telephones.

"I think this is the biggest natural disaster Mozambique has ever faced. Everything is destroyed. Our priority now is to save human lives," Mozambique's Environment Minister Celso Correia said, as AFP reported.


The storm, which had wind speeds of more than 124 miles per hour before making landfall, was the worst to hit Mozambique in at least a decade, Bloomberg News reported. While the storm was less intense than cyclones that hit the country in 2000 and 2008, it may have more of an impact because more people now live in affected areas.

"Tropical cyclone damage is a function not only of the intensity of the storm, but also the population size, level of development, and adaptation that has been implemented," University of the Witwatersrand senior lecturer in physical geography Jennifer Fitchett told Bloomberg via email. "A decade or more makes a huge difference in terms of the number of people affected."

Mozambique is at risk from an increase in heavy rainfall and more intense cyclones due to climate change, according to its USAID Climate Risk Profile. However, a 2018 study published in Environmental Research Letters found that the number of tropical cyclones forming over the Southwest Indian Ocean to make landfall in Southern Africa could actually decrease with global warming of up to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Mozambique is also threatened by sea level rise, which can make flooding worse. Beira is already working to mitigate rising ocean levels with infrastructure projects, BBC News reported.

Beira was especially hard hit by the weekend's storm, according to an initial assessment by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

"The situation is terrible. The scale of devastation is enormous. It seems that 90 per cent of the area is completely destroyed." Beira IFRC assessment team leader Jamie LeSueur said.

The city's airport is closed and flooding has cut off all roads to the city, but LeSueur said that damage in surrounding areas could be even worse.

In Zimbabwe, the worst damage occurred in its Chimanimani district, where flooding washed away homes and bridges, AFP reported.

Among those killed in the region were two school children who died when a boulder carried by a landslide collided with their dormitory. Soldiers were able to rescue the rest of the nearly 200 students, teachers and staff trapped in the school Sunday.

Officials are also worried about the fate of government workers who lived in a complex that was entirely flooded.

"We are very worried because all these houses were just suddenly submerged under water and literally washed away and that is where we have about 147 missing," Chimanimani lawmaker Joshua Sacco said, according to AFP. "It's very sad and the situation is dire."

In Malawi, previous flooding has already displaced thousands. Communities are now threatened a second time with flooding caused by Idai, the IFRC tweeted Friday.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Stuart Braun

A year after activist Greta Thunberg first stood in the rain outside the Swedish parliament with her now iconic "Skolstrejk för klimatet" — school strike for the climate — placard, the movement she spawned has set the tone for environmental protest action around the world.

Read More Show Less
Bruno Vincent / Staff / Getty Images

Toy maker Hasbro wants to play in the eco-packaging game. The board game giant will ditch its plastic packaging by 2022. The move means that games like Monopoly, Scrabble and Operation will no longer have shrink wrap, window sheets, plastic bags or elastic bands, as the Associated Press reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Vaping impaired the circulatory systems of people in a new study. bulentumut / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Vaping one time — even without nicotine — can damage blood vessels, reduce blood flow and create dangerous toxins, according to a new study published in the journal Radiology.

Read More Show Less
A man spreads pesticides on a plantation of vegetables in Rio de Janeiro Brazil. Ze Martinusso / Moment Open / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Pointing to the deaths of more than half a billion bees in Brazil over a period of just four months, beekeepers, experts and activists are raising concerns about the soaring number of new pesticides greenlighted for use by the Brazilian government since far-right President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January — and the threat that it poses to pollinators, people and the planet.

Read More Show Less
SHEALAH CRAIGHEAD

By Elliott Negin

On July 19, President Trump hosted Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins and their families, along with the family of their deceased colleague Neil Armstrong, at a White House event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first manned landing on the moon.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The study looked at three groups of diverse lizards from South America. Daniel Pincheira-Donoso
  1. Cold-climate lizards that give live birth to their offspring are more likely to be driven to extinction than their egg-laying cousins as global temperatures continue to rise, new research suggests.
Read More Show Less
Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Denmark isn't interested in selling Greenland to the U.S., so now President Trump doesn't want to visit.

Read More Show Less
A stock photo of fire in the Amazon; a record number of fires have burned there this year. Brasil2 / E+ / Getty Images

There are a record number of wildfires burning in the Amazon rainforest, Brazil's space agency has said. Their smoke is visible from space and shrouded the city of São Paulo in darkness for about an hour Monday afternoon, CBS news reported.

Read More Show Less