‘We are losing everything’: Flooding in cyclone-hit Mozambique

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Rescuers raced to help people caught in fast-rising floodwaters in Mozambique’s cyclone-hit city of Pemba on Sunday, as houses collapsed in one neighbourhood and heavy rain raised fears of worse to come.

More than 160 000 people have been affected in the largely rural region, many already exposed and hungry.

“Help us, we are losing everything!” residents of the northern city shouted at passing cars as the rushing waters flooded their homes.

Women and girls with buckets and pots tried to scoop away the torrent. But in vain – the water poured into doorways.

In the worst-affected neighbourhood of Natite, homes began to collapse, the United Nation’s humanitarian agency (OCHA) said in a tweet.

“We are unfortunately expecting devastating floods,” it said.

Cyclone Kenneth arrived just six weeks after Cyclone Idai ripped into central Mozambique and killed more than 600 people with flooding.

The new storm’s remnants could dump twice as much rain as Idai, the UN said.

As much as 250mm, or about one-quarter of the average annual rainfall for the region, has been forecast over the next few days.

“I have never seen such rains in my life,” said one Pemba resident, 35-year-old Michael Fernando.

This was the first time in recorded history that the southern African nation has been hit by two cyclones in one season, again raising concerns about climate change.

Rescue workers evacuated at least 130 people to centres elsewhere in the city on Sunday, mostly by boat, said Salviano Abreu, spokesperson for OCHA.