People await rescue on a roof in Beira, Mozambique, on Monday. (Rick Emenaket/Mission Aviation Fellowship/AFP/Getty Images)
Four days have passed since Cyclone Idai barreled into the coast of southeastern Africa, and the extent of the damage is only now becoming clearer.
The storm, packing winds that topped 100 mph, landed a direct hit on Mozambique’s fourth-largest city, Beira, home to half a million people. The city is almost totally submerged. Idai then stalled out over the mountainous border between Mozambique and Zimbabwe, causing massive landslides that swept away roads and homes.
On Monday, after flying over Beira, President Filipe Nyusi told a radio station that the death toll could reach 1,000 in Mozambique alone. The official death toll in the country stands at 84, and it is 80 in Zimbabwe. Before the storm even made landfall, its outer bands caused flooding in neighboring Malawi, killing more than 120, demonstrating just how huge the storm was.
The Red Cross said in a statement Monday that 90 percent of Beira was either damaged or destroyed. Communication out of the city has been slow, with telephone lines knocked out. The city is connected to Mozambique’s road network by a single highway through a low-lying plain.
Beira is home to a major port that is essential for the supply of goods to the central part of the country, as well as Zimbabwe and Malawi, which are landlocked.
Fields have been flooded in Beira, Mozambique. (Rick Emenaket/Mission Aviation Fellowship/AFP/Getty Images) Entire areas around Beira have been flooded after the passage of Cyclone Idai. (Rick Emenaket/Mission Aviation Fellowship/AFP/Getty Images) A boy walks in a maize field destroyed by floods in Chikwakwa, Malawi. (Amos Gumulira/AFP/Getty Images) Praia Nova, one of the most affected neighbourhoods in Beira, was virtually wiped out. (Josh Estey/Care/AP) Timber company workers were stranded in Chimanimani in eastern Zimbabwe on Monday. (Zinyange Auntony/AFP/Getty Images) A man closes improvised caskets at the morgue in Chimanimani. (Zinyange Auntony/AFP/Getty Images) A man walks along a wet path as people return to the village of Praia Nova in Beira. (Josh Estey/Care/AP) People dig graves for relatives in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe, on Monday. (Zinyange Auntony/AFP/Getty Images) Students and school staff members, rescued by the military, walk past a mudslide Sunday in Chimanimani. (Zinyange Auntony/AFP/Getty Images) The students and a woman carrying a baby walk past the mudslide. (Zinyange Auntony/AFP/Getty Images) The cyclone has killed dozens in Zimbabwe and caused massive landslides that swept away roads and homes. (Zinyange Auntony/AFP/Getty Images)