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

Damage at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge from the 2016 occupation. USFWS

By Tara Lohan

When armed militants with a grudge against the federal government seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon back in the winter of 2016, I remember avoiding the news coverage. Part of me wanted to know what was happening, but each report I read — as the occupation stretched from days to weeks and the destruction grew — made me so angry it was hard to keep reading.

Read More Show Less
Computer model projection of temperature anomalies across Europe on June 27. Temperature scale in °C. Tropicaltidbits.com

A searing heat wave has begun to spread across Europe, with Germany, France and Belgium experiencing extreme temperatures that are set to continue in the coming days.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Zero Waste Kitchen Essentials

Simple swaps that cut down on kitchen trash.

Sponsored

By Kayla Robbins

Along with the bathroom, the kitchen is one of the most daunting areas to try and make zero waste.

Read More Show Less
Skull morphology of hybrid "narluga" whale. Nature / Mikkel Høegh Post

In the 1980s, a Greenlandic subsistence hunter shot and killed a whale with bizarre features unlike any he had ever seen before. He knew something was unique about it, so he left its abnormally large skull on top of his toolshed where it rested until a visiting professor happened upon it a few years later.

Read More Show Less
A house under construction with plastic bottles filled with sand to build shelters that better withstand the climate of the country where temperatures reach up to 50° C Awserd in the Saharawi refugee camp Dakhla on Dec. 31, 2018 in Tindouf, Algeria. Stefano Montesi / Corbis / Getty Images

A UN expert painted a bleak picture Tuesday of how the climate crisis could impact global inequality and human rights, leading to a "climate apartheid" in which the rich pay to flee the consequences while the rest are left behind.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The Oregon Senate Chamber. Cacophony / CC BY 3.0

Six days after Republican Oregon Senators fled the state to avoid voting on a bill to address the climate crisis, the Senate president declared the bill dead.

Read More Show Less
Artist's conception of solar islands in the open ocean. PNAS

Millions of solar panels clustered together to form an island could convert carbon dioxide in seawater into methanol, which can fuel airplanes and trucks, according to new research from Norway and Switzerland and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, PNAS, as NBC News reported. The floating islands could drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.

Read More Show Less
Marcos Alves / Moment Open / Getty Images

More than 40 percent of insects could go extinct globally in the next few decades. So why did the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week OK the 'emergency' use of the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor on 13.9 million acres?

EcoWatch teamed up with Center for Biological Diversity via EcoWatch Live on Facebook to find out why. Environmental Health Director and Senior Attorney Lori Ann Burd explained how there is a loophole in the The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act under section 18, "that allows for entities and states to request emergency exemptions to spraying pesticides where they otherwise wouldn't be allowed to spray."

Read More Show Less