MAPUTO – A member of Mozambique’s parliament who hails from the city of Beira told EFE on Wednesday that he was shocked by the destruction Cyclone Idai caused in his hometown on the Indian Ocean.
Juliano Picardo said that the Category 4 cyclone, which slammed into Beira last Thursday and is blamed so far for more than 200 deaths in Mozambique, left the country’s fourth-largest city in ruins.
The lawmaker, who was in the interior city of Chimoio when the storm struck, said that he decided to make his way to Beira – the last stage of the journey was on foot – after not being able to contact family members.
“It was a residential area. When I went to Chimoio on Thursday, I saw there (Beira) many traditional houses built by our community. And Sunday, absolutely nothing was left,” Picardo said by telephone.
“The city of Beira needs a great deal of solidarity,” he said, noting that the more than 500,000 residents remained without electricity, drinking water and fuel.
Though the cyclone passed nearly a week ago, rain continues to fall and thousands of residents are still clinging to trees and huddled on rooftops awaiting rescue.
With the ground covered by floodwaters, burials are impossible and bodies are stacked up outside the entrance to the Beira morgue, located on the grounds of the main hospital.
“People are no longer taking the bodies to the morgue, they keep them,” Picardo said. “We are keeping the bodies in places that we found safe, places that do not have water.”
“There are no exact figures” for fatalities, he said. “Bodies appear every day.”
He said that on the way to his family’s neighborhood, he saw additional bodies while helping residents climb down from the trees where they sought refuge.
After cutting a swath through Mozambique, Cyclone Idai moved inland over the neighboring countries of Zimbabwe and Malawi.
More than 100 people were killed by Idai in Zimbabwe, according to a report from the United Nations supplied to EFE on Wednesday.
The cyclone has also caused the deaths of 56 people in the nation of Malawi, where the situation seems to be less catastrophic, though the comprehensive death toll from the disaster is likely to rise.