July 18, 2019

Mozambique Braces for Cyclone Kenneth, Another Dangerous Storm

Mozambique Braces for Cyclone Kenneth, Another Dangerous Storm

CAPE TOWN — Another tropical cyclone is expected to hit Mozambique and other countries in East Africa on Thursday, just over a month since Cyclone Idai killed more than 1,000 people and displaced millions in the region.

The new storm, Cyclone Kenneth, is expected to bring heavy rainfall, flooding and winds of more than 120 miles per hour to Mozambique and Tanzania. As it moved toward shore, it killed three people in the island nation of Comoros, just off the East African coast, uprooting trees and ripping off roofs.

The storm was expected to dump as much as 13 inches of rain within 24 hours of making landfall, forecasters said. More than 700,000 people live in the cyclone’s path, according to the United Nations.

“This is another potential tragedy for Mozambique,” said Dorothy Sang, a manager for the aid group Oxfam who is based in Beira, the port city hit hard by Cyclone Idai last month. “We’re still struggling to scale up and meet the needs of everyone after the last cyclone. This will make it much harder.”

Meteorologists expect that the new cyclone will strike the Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, about 600 miles northeast of Beira.

Forecasters on Thursday upgraded the storm to Category Four, the second-highest hurricane classification. The United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it was the first hurricane-strength storm in modern history to make landfall in Cabo Delgado Province.

Déborah Nguyen, a communications officer for the World Food Program who is also in Beira, said that strong winds had already hit Cabo Delgado by Thursday afternoon.

“Some buildings are already damaged,” Ms. Nguyen said, adding that trees had blown over and power outages were expected.

Cabo Delgado lies north of regions accustomed to cyclones, so local communities are less prepared to deal with flooding, said Ms. Sang, of Oxfam.

Rescue workers stockpiled more than 300 tons of emergency rations but are concerned about being able to reach people if roads are damaged, Ms. Nguyen said.

The presence of armed militias in the region — where more than 100 people have been killed in the last year — pose an additional security threat, she added.

Augusta Maita, the director of Mozambique’s national disaster management agency, told reporters that evacuation plans were in place, “even if it means forced evacuation.”

In Tanzania, the authorities closed schools and ordered civil servants to stay home.

Aid workers in Mozambique have scrambled to contain diseases like cholera and malaria since Cyclone Idai receded, with the World Health Organization requesting $40 million to deal with the crisis. Further damage would be likely to set back these efforts, aid officials said.

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