April 26, 2019 / 8:30 AM / 23 days ago

Cyclone leaves trail of destruction across Mozambique

* Cyclone Kenneth batters north of country

* Homes destroyed, power and communications cut

* Second major storm to hit Mozambique in weeks

* Authorities warn of further devastating floods

JOHANNESBURG, April 26 (Reuters) - Homes were destroyed and some areas were cut off and without power in Mozambique on Friday after Cyclone Kenneth made landfall, the second major storm to hit the country in six weeks.

The category four storm battered northern parts of the country with winds gusting up to 280 km per hour (174 mph) after killing three people on the island nation of Comoros on Thursday.

It was the second strong cyclone to hit the impoverished nation, after Cyclone Idai flattened Mozambique’s fourth largest city and caused devastating floods in March, killing more than 1,000 across southern Africa.

About 90 percent of homes, mostly made of mud, may have been destroyed in Ibo, a district of the northern province Cabo Delgado, where Cyclone Kenneth hit, according to an early report from local group Associacao Amigos de Pemba.

Further south, in Quissanga, there were also reports of destroyed houses, the association said. None of its contacts in Muidumbe, further inland, had answered their phones, while there was little communication with the Macomia district, to the north of Quissanga.

Saviano Abreu, spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), who was in Beira, where Cyclone Idai struck, said there were reports that Macomia was badly damaged, but details were scant.

FLOOD WARNINGS

Shaquila Alberto, owner of the beach-front Messano Flower Lodge in Macomia, said there were many fallen trees and in rural areas people’s homes had been damaged. Some areas of the nearby port town of Pemba had no power.

“Even my workers, they said the roof and all the things fell down,” she said by phone.

Further south, in Pemba, Elton Ernesto, a receptionist at Raphael’s Hotel, said there were fallen trees but not too much damage. The hotel had power and water, he said, while phones rang in the background. “The rain has stopped,” he added.

However Michael Charles, an official for the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), who was in the capital Maputo, said heavy rains over the next few days were likely to bring a “second wave of destruction” in the form of flooding.

Flooding in the days after Cyclone Idai wrought the most death and destruction in central Mozambique, submerging entire villages, cutting areas off from aid and ruining crops.

Charles said while the damage so far was uncertain, and the IFRC had not been able to reach its volunteers on the ground in Cabo Delgado, it did expect flooding to have an impact.

“The houses are not all solid and the topography is very sandy,” he said. Aid workers and the government had moved around 30,000 people to safer buildings such as schools.

The World Food Programme said the storm could dump 600 millimetres of rain in the area over the next 10 days, twice as much as Beira received after Cyclone Idai.

Authorities have said there are concerns that five rivers as well as coastal waterways could overflow. Around 680,000 people were in the path of the storm.

Reporting by Emma Rumney; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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