Cyclone Favio leaves trail of destruction

Emergency workers on Friday surveyed damage to areas of Mozambique left devastated by Cyclone Favio, which left at least three people dead, scores injured and flattened most of the worst-hit town.

Red Cross spokesperson Tapiwa Gomo said he had received differing reports that three or four people had been killed in and around the town of Vilankulo in Inhambane province.

“The situation is extremely bad, about 80% of the town has been destroyed. The local hospital, which has about 120 patients, was also destroyed,” he said.

The government and Red Cross teams were working together in Vilankulo, about 800km north-east of the capital, Maputo, to move the patients into tents.

“The problem right now is that medicine in the hospital was affected, which means there is no medicine,” said Gomo.

About 200 tents were being provided for those who had had the roofs of their houses blown off.

Items such as blankets were needed, Gomo added, while aid organisations went on evacuating people and assessing areas that would need assistance.

Meanwhile Favio was downgraded to a tropical depression.

“It is no longer a cyclone, it is now a tropical depression. The winds are strong, from 60kph to 80kph.
It is travelling north-west to Zimbabwe,” said Helder Sueia, chief forecaster in the national meteorological office.

He would not comment on the dangers of Cyclone Jumede, currently to the east of Mozambique, affecting the country.

Gomo said they were not yet worried about the possibility of a second cyclone as it was “still very far” off.

United Nations Children’s Fund spokesperson Thierry Delvijne-Jean said emergency material that had been stored in a Maputo warehouse for victims of the flooding, such as chlorine, water, tarpaulin sheets and basic survival kits would be handed out to victims of the cyclone.

Favio was classified as a category-four cyclone, which is one that can generate winds of about 200kph.

The cyclone adds to the strain on emergency workers already helping victims of recent flooding that left 80 000 people living alongside the Zambezi River homeless and about 30 dead.

Deluges in Mozambique in 2000/01 claimed more than 700 lives.

The Southern African country’s peak rainfall season is from the end of February to early March.—Sapa-AFP

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