Mozambique Cyclone Idai Flash Update

Mozambique Cyclone Idai Flash Update
The death toll from Cyclone Idai’s landfall has reportedly risen to at least 84 and the President has said that it could rise above 1,000, according to media reports.

NEW YORK, United States of America, March 19, 2019/ -- HIGHLIGHTS 

The death toll from Cyclone Idai’s landfall has reportedly risen to at least 84 and the President has said that it could rise above 1,000, according to media reports.

Heavy rainfall is projected to continue in Sofala and Manica provinces from 19 to 21 March.

Alerts have been issued regarding the risk of flooding in the Buzi and Pungoe river basins in the next 72 hours, which could lead to further destruction and potential loss of life.


At least 84 people have died following Cyclone Idai’s landfall, and the President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, has said that he believes the death toll could be higher than 1,000 people, according to media reports. At least 267 classrooms and 24 health units have reportedly been affected in the provinces of Sofala, Manica, Zambezia and Inhambane, according to authorities. Many areas remain without power and almost every network has been damaged. 

Beira City has suffered extensive damage, according to reports from preliminary assessments and aerial overviews. The Beira Central Hospital emergency wing remains non-operational due to significant damage. However, other parts of the hospital – including the paediatric wing – have sustained less damage and are reportedly functioning. The Munhava District health center in Beira City has also sustained damage, with the roof reportedly collapsed. WFP’s office and warehouse in Beira were damaged, but some of its stocks – including ready-to-use nutritious food for malnourished children and women – have been salvaged. The Population Services International (PSI) factory in Beira was also reportedly damaged, impacting WASH supplies, including stocks of certeza, a water purifier. 

Beira City remains cut-off from surrounding areas, with the N6 national road between Tica and Nhamatanda (85 kilometres from Beira) now impassable. Parts of Beira Port – including the grain terminal, warehouses and coal terminal – sustained damage. However, the container terminal and oil terminal did not sustain any major damage, according to preliminary reports. Several vessels ran aground near the Port and salvage operations are underway to clear the area. 

Outside of Beira, a dam collapsed on 17 March, reportedly causing extensive damage. People reportedly sought refuge on the tops of their roofs and trees as rising floodwaters swept through the area. Initial aerial surveys indicated significant loss of life, although exact numbers of people impacted are not yet known. 

In Manica Province, there are reports of thousands of people affected by flooding and many areas remain inaccessible, making it difficult to identify the scale of impact and needs. A bridge has reportedly collapsed, isolating Dombe and Munhinga, in Sussundenga, from the rest of Manica province. 

The next 72 hours are expected to be critical, with water expected to rise above alert levels in the Buzi and Pungoe river basins and a continued high risk of urban floods in Beira and Dondo. Meanwhile, thousands of people in Zambezia and Tete remain in need of assistance following floods that began in early March. 


In Beira, the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) is maintaining its Center of Operations at the airport, with inter-agency coordination currently being facilitated by WFP and COSACA. Telecoms Sans Frontiers has deployed a team to Beira and has established connectivity for humanitarian operations. OCHA has deployed surge staff on the ground who are supporting inter-agency coordination. A second coordination hub is being established in Chimoio, led by INGC, to support operations in surrounding areas and a coordination meeting was held on 18 March to discuss critical issues. Coordination is also active in Quelimane in Zambezia, led by the INGC with support from UNICEF. 

Response and search and rescue efforts are underway in multiple areas. INGC is providing assistance to 3,800 families in accommodation centers in Sofala Province.WFP has begun distributions in Beira and multiple health partners are supporting urgent response in impacted health facilities, including Beira Central Hospital. Outside of Beira, response is ongoing in Zambezia, including to contain the vaccine-derived polio outbreak which was confirmed in January 2019. In Tete City, WFP is assisting nearly 900 families affected by flooding with a mixture of cash transfer and vouchers assistance, at the INGC accommodation center in Matundo neighborhood, involving local food retailers. 

Four helicopters – three government and one from WFP – are supporting the response in-country. WFP airlifted 20 tonnes of high energy biscuits into Beira on 17 March to assist more than 22,000 people. A flight from the Dubai Humanitarian Response Depot carrying vital supplies - including 13,700 tarps, 3,500 jerry cans, 1,500 shelter tool kits and medicines for UN and NGO operations - was due to land in Maputo on 18 March, and additional food supplies are arriving in the coming days. Efforts are underway to move supplies by boat from the Maputo Port to the Beira Port in the coming days. 

However, significant response challenges remain. The scale and scope of flooding has made multiple key roads impassable, meaning that road convoys are not able to reach Beira at this time. Many trucks are therefore stuck on the road and unable to reach their intended destinations. There are also challenges flying sufficient relief supplies into Beira and surrounding areas due to the limited number of air assets currently available for the operation.