Cyclone Kenneth roared into Mozambique, killing at least five people and sending hundreds to seek higher ground as officials feared flooding and mudslides in the days ahead.
With 140 mph winds, Kenneth is the first hurricane strength cyclone to strike Mozambique in over 60 years and thousands more are feared to be affected by the aftermath of flooding. The BBC reported there are fears thousands may be trapped in remote villages with no way to get out
One woman was killed by a falling tree in Pemba, and two were killed on lbo Island, where 90% percent of homes have been destroyed. Another was killed in the Macomia district and details on the fifth death are unavailable.
Nearly 700,000 people have been impacted by the cyclone, and AP says many have been left exposed and hungry with water levels rising.
“Aside from storm damage, the greatest risk will immediately be from flooding due to heavy rains. Rivers within this region of Mozambique may flood, especially as at least one of the dams is already close to full capacity, preventing flood water from being retained. This will make it almost impossible to distribute aid as roads will become impassable,” Marc Nosbach, country director for CAREMozambique, told Reuters.
In the Cabo Delgado province, 2,500 homes were destroyed and schools and health centers were damaged, according to Accuweather. Winds in Pemba gusted to 44mph, causing significant power outages in the area.
Rain is forecast over the next several days, and Mozambique’s meteorological authority said the storm could potentially move back out to sea and intensify again.
The government urged people to seek higher ground on Saturday, fearing flooding and mudslides created from the heavy rainfall.
“A flooding disaster can unfold in Cabo Delgado where Kenneth slammed onshore,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.
Before the cyclone hit, 30,000 people were evacuated to safer buildings such as schools, Reuters reported
“The situation wasn’t worse thanks to awareness-raising work by local authorities,” said Mozambique’s disaster management agency.
The UN’s World Food Programme said it’s creating an “emergency preparedness plan” with the Mozambican government and other humanitarian groups.
Cyclone Kenneth hit landfall just six weeks after Cyclone Idai killed more than 600 people in central Mozambique. It was the first time in history that the southern African nation has been hit by two cyclones in one season, reported AP.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.