14 Dead As Cyclone Bulbul Smashes Into India, Bangladesh Coasts

 

Fourteen people died and more than two million others spent a night huddled in storm shelters as Cyclone Bulbul smashed into the coasts of India and Bangladesh with fierce gales and torrential rains, officials said Sunday.

The cyclone packed winds of up to 120 kilometres (75 miles) per hour when it hit late Saturday, closing ports and airports in both countries.

Seven people were killed in India’s West Bengal state, the Press Trust of India reported, including two after uprooted trees fell on their homes and another after being struck by falling branches in Kolkata.

An eighth person died under a collapsed wall in nearby Odisha state.

In Bangladesh, six people were killed — five by falling trees — and at least 20 people were injured.

Five others are missing after a fishing trawler sank in squally weather on Meghna river near the southern island of Bhola, district administrator Masud Alam Siddiqui told AFP.

The cyclone also damaged some 4,000 mostly mud and tin-built houses, disaster management secretary Shah Kamal told AFP.

In coastal Khulna, the worst-hit district in Bangladesh, trees swayed violently and were ripped from the ground in the fierce storm, blocking roads and hampering access to the area.

Some low-lying parts of the district were flooded, disaster management minister Enamur Rahman told AFP.

Authorities said the cyclone was weakening as it moved inland.

“It has turned into a deep depression, causing heavy rainfall,” Bangladesh weather bureau deputy chief Ayesha Khatun told AFP.

Bulbul hit the coast at the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest which straddles Bangladesh and India, and is home to endangered species including Bengal tigers and Irrawaddy dolphins.

The mangroves shielded the coast from the storm’s full impact, Khatun said.

‘Trail of destruction’

Some 2.1 million people across Bangladesh were relocated to cyclone shelters.

Troops were sent to coastal districts while tens of thousands of volunteers went door-to-door and used loudspeakers to urge people to evacuate their villages.

“We spent the night with another 400 people,” said Ambia Begum, who arrived at a shelter in the port town of Mongla late Saturday along with her family.

“I am worried about my cattle and the straw roof of my house. I could not bring them here. Allah knows what is happening there,” the 30-year-old mother of three told AFP.

Around 1,500 tourists were stranded on St. Martin’s island off southeastern Bangladesh after boat services were cancelled.

In India, nearly 120,000 people who were evacuated started to return home as the cyclone weakened, authorities said.

“The storm has left a trail of destruction as it’s crossed the coastline of West Bengal,” the state’s Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim said.

Bangladesh’s low-lying coast, home to 30 million people, and India’s east are regularly battered by cyclones.

Hundreds of thousands of people living around the Bay of Bengal have been killed in cyclones in recent decades.

While the frequency and intensity of the storms have increased, partly due to climate change, the death tolls have come down because of faster evacuations and the building of thousands of coastal shelters.

Cyclone Fani was the most powerful storm to hit the area in years when it struck in May, killing 12 people.

Death Toll Rises To 77 In India, Bangladesh Cyclones

A resident collects belongings from inside a house destroyed by the cyclone “Fani” in Puri in the eastern Indian state of Odisha on May 11, 2019.  ASIT KUMAR / AFP

 

The death toll from a major cyclone that hit eastern India and Bangladesh in early May rose to 77 on Monday as anger grew over millions of people still without power and water.

Cyclone Fani, the first summer cyclone to hit India’s Bay of Bengal coast in 43 years, made landfall in Odisha state on May 3 packing winds up to 200 kilometres (125 miles) per hour.

The winds damaged half a million houses, uprooted hundreds of thousands of trees and knocked out power, telecommunications and water for millions of people in one of India’s poorest states.

The Indian death toll, which earlier stood at 41, shot up with fresh casualties reported from Puri and Khurda districts on Sunday. Thirteen people also perished in Bangladesh after Fani barrelled northwards.

“The toll has gone up to 64 with maximum deaths (39) reported from Puri,” an official at the State Emergency Operation Centre told AFP.

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India initially won praise, including from the United Nations, for moving some 1.2 million people to safety before the storm arrived, in what Odisha’s chief minister called the “biggest human evacuation in history”.

But this praise has turned to anger for many local people at what they see as the slow pace of reconstruction and apathy from the authorities.

“I have lost my thatched house in the cyclone. No one from the government has come to see my damaged house,” Shantilata Mishra, a resident in the Puri district, was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency.

“I do not know when they will assess the damage and give me assistance to construct my house,” she said.

Angry survivors have even been taking to the streets to protest the slow pace of relief as well as high prices of essential food items and water.

On Sunday, demonstrators blocking roads in Odisha’s state capital Bhubaneswar said a lack of coordination among various government agencies was compounding their misery.

“There is a limit to our patience. We are being made to spend sleepless nights. We have to purchase drinking water at exorbitant prices,” a protester told PTI.

Another protester said the government had failed to provide “basic necessities such as water and power despite having promised to restore power supply by Sunday”.

Odisha’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has said the assessment of damaged houses would begin on May 15 and promised financial help to affected families.

Senior officers will supervise the assessment process and “all efforts will be made to ensure that not a single beneficiary is left out”, his office tweeted Sunday.

On Sunday a nine-member team from Delhi arrived to take stock of the damage.

Normally the storms hit around October and November and Fani was only the third cyclone to come off the Bay of Bengal in the summer months in 150 years.

In 1999 the same state was hit by a super-cyclone that left nearly 10,000 dead.

AFP

 

First Death Recorded As Cyclone Kenneth Smashes Into Mozambique

File Photo: Residents stand on rooftops in a flooded area of Buzi, central Mozambique, on March 20, 2019, after the passage of cyclone Idai./ AFP

 

A powerful cyclone smashed into northern Mozambique, leaving one person dead on Friday, barely a month after a super-storm hit the centre of the country, devastating the area and leaving hundreds dead.

Category three Cyclone Kenneth, packing winds of 160 kilometres (100 miles) an hour, struck the north coast’s Cabo Delgado province late Thursday after swiping the Comoros islands.

The United Nations warned of flash flooding and landslides as Mozambique’s emergency agency the INGC reported one person was killed by a falling coconut tree in the port city of Pemba, Cabo Delgado’s provincial capital.

On the tourist island of Ibo, 90 percent of homes for the 6,000 population had been flattened, according to a spokesman for the agency, Antonio Beleza.

“I don’t expect to find my hotel undamaged,” said Swiss hotel owner Lucie Amr, who took refuge in Ibo’s fort alongside many local residents.

The winds had reduced to about 70 kilometres an hour on Friday, according to the local meteorological institute, but heavy rains are forecast over the next 24 hours, raising fears of flooding and mudslides in Cabo Delgado, which borders Tanzania.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said over 600 millimetres (almost 24 inches) of rainfall was expected.

That would be nearly double the amount accumulated in 10 days of rainfall that caused flooding in Beira, which was devastated during Cyclone Idai.

‘Additional blow’

The most powerful storm to strike the region in decades, Idai cut a path of destruction through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. It left more than 1,000 dead, causing damage estimated at around $2 billion (1.8 billion euros)

“Although floodwaters have receded in most areas it (Idai)affected, access is still a challenge as infrastructure was severely compromised,” the WFP said.

“This second cyclone is an additional blow for the people of Mozambique and bound to complicate the humanitarian response,” adding that it had already provided food aid to 1.3 million people after Idai.

READ ALSO: Floods Kill 51, Displace 1,000 People In South Africa

It said the government has made public buildings including schools available to people seeking shelter from the flooding and the WFP has “prepositioned” over 500 tonnes of food in Pemba.

A helicopter is expected to arrived in Cabo Delgado when weather conditions allow as roads are expected to be impassable because of flooding, making food delivery difficult, it added.

Forecasters at Meteo-France warned that Kenneth could trigger waves off Mozambique’s northeastern shore as much as five metres (16 feet) higher than usual.

“I was quite preoccupied by the sea because they announced six metre waves… the wind was very strong, and I’ve never seen anything like it in my 15 years in Pemba,” a Portuguese owner of a lodge on Wimby beach, Anabela Moreira, told AFP.

Local journalist Jonas Wazir told AFP that some houses had collapsed and that electricity supply in the city was down.

The Red Cross warned it was “especially concerned” about the storm’s impact, as many communities in Mozambique are still recovering from a cyclone that hit on the night of March 14-15.

“Cyclone Kenneth may require a major new humanitarian operation at the same time that the ongoing Cyclone Idai response targeting three million people in three countries remains critically underfunded,” the UN’s humanitarian coordination office OCHA also warned.

Kenneth first passed by the Indian Ocean archipelago nation of Comoros on Thursday, battering it with high winds and heavy rains, the country’s Meteorological Office wrote on Facebook.

Tanzania concern

Tanzanian authorities ordered schools and businesses shut in some southern districts on Thursday and urged people to brace for extreme winds and rain.

The Tanzanian provinces of Mtwara, Lindi and Ruvuma were at highest risk, the country’s meteorological agency said.

Residents in Mtwara were leaving the coastal enclave with their families, some on foot, for emergency shelters, witnesses told AFP by phone.

Gelasius Byakanwa, the governor of Mtwara, ordered schools closed in his province and asked “students to stay home and employees not to go to their offices”.

AFP

Cholera Cases Mount To Over 1,000 In Cyclone-Hit Mozambique – Report

Residents stand on rooftops in a flooded area of Buzi, central Mozambique, on March 20, 2019, after the passage of cyclone Idai./ AFP

 

Cholera has infected at least 1,052 people in Mozambique’s cyclone-hit region, the health ministry said Monday in a new report, marking a massive increase from 139 cases reported four days ago.

The mounting cases represent on average more than 200 cases of new infections each day.

Although hundreds have been taken ill with cholera since last week, only one death has been reported so far, tallies compiled by the ministry showed.

A mass vaccination campaign is due to be rolled out on Wednesday as authorities and aid workers are scrambling to avert an epidemic more than two weeks after a devastating cyclone slammed Mozambique.

Some 900,000 doses of oral cholera vaccines were due to arrive in the cyclone-battered Beira city on Tuesday, from the global stockpile for emergency, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“Vaccination against cholera begins on Wednesday in Beira,” a senior Mozambican health official Ussein Isse said.

The central city of Beira is the worst affected, accounting for 959 out of the total 1,052 cases.

The city of more than half-a-million people recorded 247 cases in 24 hours between Sunday and Monday morning.

Cholera is transmitted through contaminated drinking water or food and causes acute diarrhoea.

The numbers of cholera cases is expected to rise due to the increasing numbers of people reporting to health centres with symptoms, said the WHO in a statement.

“The next few weeks are crucial and speed is of the essence if we are to save lives and limit suffering,” WHO chief for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said in the statement.

Cyclone Idai killed more than 700 people across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe and hundreds of thousands have been left homeless — many of whom have been forced to use dirty water supplies. At least 518 of those deaths have occurred in Mozambique.

Experts have warned that the destruction of drinking water sources and lack of sanitation in overcrowded shelters in Mozambique create breeding grounds for waterborne diseases such as cholera.

To control the outbreak, vast quantities of drinking water and water purification units have been delivered to affected areas.

A publicity blitz to raise awareness of the cholera situation is also underway.

More than 146,000 people have been displaced from their homes by the cyclone and subsequent floods are sheltering in 155 sites across four provinces of Sofala, Manica, Zambezia and Tete, according to the UN.

Mozambique Families Devastated By Cyclone Tragedy

People carry the coffin of a man who died after his home collapsed following a strong cyclone that hit Beira, Mozambique, on March 20, 2019. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

 

Twelve people perched precariously on a branch of a mango tree, sheltering from the floodwaters of tropical Cyclone Idai which wrought devastation across southern Africa.

“But after two days, it snapped,” said Isabel Bernard, 20, a survivor of the storm’s aftermath who had been clinging to the tree branch along with her son.

“We were thrown into the water and I lost sight of my son. I looked everywhere but I didn’t know where he was — I was terrified.”

Still exhausted by the trauma she suffered, the young mother struggled to recount the situation that unfolded earlier this month when the river Buzi burst its banks and she was forced to flee her home.

Caught completely off-guard, she sought refuge in the tree with her three-year-old son Zacharia, a seven-year-old nephew and eight-year-old niece, along with others.

They were trapped there without food or water as floodwaters rushed underneath them, carrying human bodies and animal carcasses.

The branch buckled, and the group were swept away.

When she scrambled free, she was covered with the dark red earth dislodged by the fast-flowing floodwaters.

She hoisted herself into another tree, now without her son.

“I spent three days in that tree, the time it took for the water to recede,” the survivor said.

“I didn’t have my son and I didn’t know what to do. It was horrible, I was totally powerless,” she murmured.

She was finally able to climb down from the tree and take stock of the dire situation unfolding around her.

Rotting bodies

 

She held out hope that her son had survived their terrifying ordeal but a small body had been found in a nearby cornfield — that of Zacharia.

He will be buried where he was found.

“Of the 12 people who were perched on the branch, seven died” by drowning, the young mother said.

Nearly two weeks after the initial drama, vegetation still hangs from the tree’s branches at a height of almost four metres (14 feet), according to witnesses — testament to the scale of the flooding.

Though the road sign that welcomes drivers to the village of Begaja survived the deluge, the village itself was almost completely destroyed.

“The water destroyed everything,” said primary school teacher Zacharia Remedio.

“The school is the only undamaged building because it was made of concrete. There were also a couple of stone houses and the little church which were spared.”

Electricity pylons are scattered on the ground and only a handful of wooden construction posts remain in the ground after homes and businesses were levelled.

Up to 15 villagers in the community of around 1,000 located 90 kilometres (55 miles) west of Beira perished in the flooding.

Bernard, like 200 others whose lives were devastated by the cyclone, is sheltering in a thatched-roof church.

Also among them is Maracame Mandava who recounted how he survived by sheltering on the school’s roof while his mother fell to the same fate as Zacharia.

“She clung to a tree, but she was old. After two days without eating she was fatigued and fell into the water,” Mandava said.

“We found her body in a field several kilometres away a few days later.”

After her traumatic experience, Bernard ruled out returning to her village. “I worry that it will happen again,” she said.

AFP

Five Cholera Cases In Cyclone-Ravaged Mozambique

Residents stand on rooftops in a flooded area of Buzi, central Mozambique, on March 20, 2019, after the passage of cyclone Idai./ AFP

 

Mozambique’s Environment Minister Celso Correia said Wednesday that five cases of cholera had been confirmed following the cyclone that ravaged the country killing at least 468 people.

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“We have five cases of cholera which have been confirmed. This is in Beira and the area around,” Correia told AFP, referring to the city which bore the brunt of the cyclone’s force.

AFP

Mozambique Cyclone Survivors Face ‘Ticking Bomb’ Of Disease

People are escorted to safety by aid workers at the airport of the coastal city of Beira in central Mozambique on March 19, 2019, after the area was hit by the Cyclone Idai. ADRIEN BARBIER / AFP

 

The Red Cross warned Monday that survivors of a powerful cyclone that pummelled southern Africa face “a ticking bomb” of a disease even as aid workers reached those affected by the storm.

Cyclone Idai smashed into Mozambique’s coast, unleashing hurricane-force wind and rain that flooded swathes of the poor country before battering eastern Zimbabwe — killing 706 people across the two nations.

The head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Elhadj As Sy said “we are sitting on a ticking bomb” as he called for renewed efforts to address the worsening health situation.

READ ALSO: More Than 1,000 Feared Dead In Mozambique Storm

As logistical conditions improved and roads to affected communities have been reconnected, the full scale of the humanitarian crisis has been revealed for the first time since the storm struck on March 15.

More than two million people have been affected in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi where the storm started as a tropical depression causing flooding which killed 60 and displaced nearly a million people. Hundreds are still missing in Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

“The conditions for rescue are improving. Yesterday a road reopened which was really important to allow officials to work and rescue,” Mozambique’s Land Minister Celso Correa told reporters.

‘Children looking for their parents’ 

“We’ve got 30 missions flying today and some going by road so we can really deliver volume,” said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ Sebastian Rhodes Stampa.

“We are packing food and shelter now — they will go out tomorrow both north and south”.

Stampa stressed that efforts to rebuild infrastructure damaged in the cyclone were temporary and not lasting repairs.

“They are repairing for now,” to allow aid through, he said.

Buzi, one of the worst hit towns located 30 kilometres (19 miles) southwest of Beira, became reachable by road on Monday — for the first time since the storm hit.

“It will now be much faster to deliver aid,” Stampa added.

Sy, who had just returned from the region, warned of a “high risk of water-borne diseases” like cholera and typhus — as well as malaria, which is endemic in the region.

The United Nations has also warned that stagnant water in many areas, decomposing bodies and the lack of sanitation in overcrowded shelters in Mozambique could create breeding grounds for such diseases.

The government has already identified some suspected but unconfirmed cases of cholera, Sy said.

“That is the reason why I am raising the alarm. Many of these water-borne diseases are a great risk, but they are preventable,” he added.

“The worst thing is the children crying and looking for their parents… It is heartbreaking,” he said, adding that it remained unclear how many children may have been orphaned.

AFP

Disease Outbreak Threatens Survivors Of Cyclone In Southern Africa

Women holding their babies stand in a line to receive clothes that has been donated to the displaced people at the Samora Machel High School in Beira, Mozambique, on March 23, 2019.
WIKUS DE WET / AFP

 

Disease is threatening to aggravate the already dire conditions facing millions of survivors following the powerful tropical cyclone which ravaged southern Africa 10 days ago, officials warned on Sunday.

Cyclone Idai smashed into Mozambique’s coast unleashing hurricane-force wind and rain that flooded swathes of the poor country before battering eastern Zimbabwe — killing 705 people across the two nations.

“It is inevitable that cases of cholera and malaria will arise. In many areas we are already fighting with malaria cases,” said Land Minister Celso Correia at a briefing in Beira, 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) northeast of the capital Maputo.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, also at the briefing, warned that disease outbreaks in inaccessible areas could be “really problematic”.

READ ALSO: Police Stoned As Frankfurt Flashmob Descends Into Chaos

The World Food Programme said Friday that the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Mozambique is on a par with the situation in Yemen and Syria which are both in the grip of civil wars.

Aid workers from across the world are continuing to arrive in the region to bring help to more than two million affected people across an area of roughly 3,000 square kilometres (around 1,160 square miles).

‘We suffered a lot’

Survivors are struggling in desperate conditions with some still trapped on rooftops and those rescued in urgent need of food and medical supplies.

“The government is already setting up a cholera treatment centre to mitigate cholera. We should not be frightened when cholera issues arise,” added Correia, describing efforts to control the emerging humanitarian crisis.

“It is normal. It’s almost inevitable. Malaria, we know how it arises. We have lots of wetlands and we’re going to have malaria that is sure to come up (there).”

Wilfried Deloviare, a 19-year-old resident of Beira which was caught in the eye of the storm, said he felt “sorry for our town, our city, because we suffered a lot to build it”.

“Houses are completely destroyed, and some people don’t have money to rebuild their businesses — and many businesses are going to fail,” he told AFP.

‘People don’t know what to do’

More than two million people have been affected in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi where the storm started as a tropical depression causing flooding which killed 60 and displaced nearly a million people. Hundreds are still missing in Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it had recorded two cases of cholera so far but the UN was unable to confirm the reports.

Stampa described efforts to re-open the main access road to Beira as a “big victory”.

“We will be able to bring more help to families living in this affected area,” he said.

Those living in affected areas of Mozambique began to trickle back to church over the weekend.

The Ponta Gea Catholic Cathedral in Beira was miraculously undamaged by the storm while the church next door was leveled.

“The people don’t know what to do because they lost their houses, they have no food, they don’t know where to sleep — this brings sadness and anxiety,” said Father Pedro who conducted a mass in darkness late on Saturday.

Much of the area hit by the cyclone remains disconnected from electricity supplies, complicating rescue efforts at night-fall.

As many as 109,000 people are living in shelters across central Mozambique, many of them located in and around Beira.

One survivor was six-year-old Elena Joaquin who clutched a coconut as she sat surrounded by pots and pans at a shelter in Buzi, southwest of Beria, where she had sought refuge along with her parents.

But life had slowly begun to return to normal in central Beira where traffic was flowing more than in recent days and business were resuming trade.

AFP

 

This Week Around The World In Pictures [March 16-22]

 

It has been a very eventful week across the world, with both pleasurable and unpalatable incidents recorded in various regions. 

From a royal celebration of St Patrick’s Day Parade in Britain to violent struggles in the Middle East and down to natural disasters in Africa, here are some pictures that mirror the world, giving a feel of its pulse this week.

 

BRITAIN-ROYALS

Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Britain’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge enjoy a pint of Guinness with officers and guardsmen of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards after the St Patrick’s Day parade, at Cavalry Barracks in Hounslow, west London, on March 17, 2019. Gareth Fuller / POOL / AFP

 

Southern Kaduna Indigenes Protest Over Killings In Kajuru

Protesters march to the Unity Fountain In Abuja on (March 19, 2019) as they call for an end to killings. Photos: Channels TV/Sodiq Adelakun

Brexit Pressure

British Prime Minister Theresa May (C) leaves her office during a break on March 21, 2019, on the first day of an EU summit focused on Brexit, in Brussels. European Union leaders meet in Brussels on March 21 and 22, for the last EU summit before Britain’s scheduled exit of the union. Ludovic MARIN / AFP

COLOMBIA-VENEZUELA-CRISIS-BORDER

People cross from Cucuta in Colombia back to San Antonio del Tachira in Venezuela after buying goods to resell, through improvised bridged on the “trochas”, illegal trails on the border between the two countries near the Simon Bolivar international bridge, on March 21, 2019. Venezuela is in the grip of a humanitarian crisis due to shortages of food and medicine exacerbated by hyperinflation. Juan Pablo BAYONA / AFP

 

HONG KONG-US-ART-KAWS

‘KAWS:HOLIDAY’ ‘Companion’, an inflatable sculpture (C) by US artist and designer Brian Donnelly, known professionally as Kaws, is towed through Victoria Harbour before the opening ceromony for its exhibition in Hong Kong on March 22, 2019. Made in collaboration with locally based creative studio AllRightsReserved (ARR), the 37-metre-long KAWS:HOLIDAY sculpture will be docked in Victoria Harbour. Isaac Lawrence / AFP

BRAZIL-POLITICS-CORRUPTION-TEMER-ARREST

Brazil’s former president (2016-2018) Michel Temer (C), arrives under police escort at the Federal Police headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on March 21, 2019 after being arrested earlier in Sao Paulo as part of the sprawling ‘Car Wash’ anti-corruption probe. Temer was the leader of a “criminal organization” involved in embezzlement and money laundering, the federal prosecutor alleged Thursday, after the former leader was arrested as part of the ‘Car Wash’ probe. Mauro PIMENTEL / AFP

 

US-POLITICS-TRUMP-FREE SPEECH

US President Donald Trump greets Justine Murray, a student at Syracuse University, after signing an executive order to protect free speech on college campuses during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, March 21, 2019. SAUL LOEB / AFP

MOZAMBIQUE-WEATHER-CYCLONE

People collect metal sheets from a damaged supermarket to re-build their destroyed houses following the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique, on March 21, 2019. Aid workers raced against time to help survivors and meet spiralling humanitarian needs in three southern African countries battered by the region’s worst storm in years. Six days after tropical cyclone Idai cut a swathe through Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, the confirmed death toll stood at more than 300 and hundreds of thousands of lives were at risk, officials said. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

TURKEY-KURDS-NEW YEAR-NEWROZ

A woman takes a selfie in front of a bonfire as Turkish Kurds gather during Newroz celebrations for the new year in Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey, on March 21, 2019. Newroz (also known as Nawroz or Nowruz) is an ancient Persian festival, which is also celebrated by Kurdish people, marking the first day of spring, which falls on March 21. Ilyas AKENGIN / AFP

INDIA-RELIGION-HINDUISM-HOLI

Indian children throw coloured powder in the air during Holi festival celebrations in Chennai on March 21, 2019. Holi, the popular Hindu spring festival of colours is observed in India and across countries at the end of the winter season on the last full moon of the lunar month. ARUN SANKAR / AFP

MOZAMBIQUE-WEATHER-CYCLONE

Rebecca Albino (R), a mother of three children, mourns beside the coffin of her husband, Tomas Joaquim Chimukme during his funeral, following a strong cyclone that hit Beira, Mozambique, on March 20, 2019. Five days after tropical cyclone Idai cut a swathe through Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, the confirmed death toll stood at more than 300 and hundreds of thousands of lives were at risk, officials said. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

MOZAMBIQUE-WEATHER-CYCLONE

People walk on the flooded street of Buzi, central Mozambique, on March 20, 2019 after the passage of the cyclone Idai. International aid agencies raced on March 20 to rescue survivors and meet spiralling humanitarian needs in three impoverished countries battered by one of the worst storms to hit southern Africa in decades. Five days after tropical cyclone Idai cut a swathe through Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, the confirmed death toll stood at more than 300 and hundreds of thousands of lives were at risk, officials said. ADRIEN BARBIER / AFP

MOZAMBIQUE-WEATHER-CYCLONE

People take part in the looting sacks of Chinese rice printed “China Aid” from a warehouse which is surrounded by water after cyclone hit in Beira, Mozambique, on March 20, 2019. Five days after tropical cyclone Idai cut a swathe through Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, the confirmed death toll stood at more than 300 and hundreds of thousands of lives were at risk, officials said. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

IRAQ-KURDS-FESTIVAL-NORUZ

An Iraqi Kurd holds lit torches in the town of Akra, 500 kilometres north of the capital Baghdad, on March 20, 2019, during celebrations of Nowruz (Noruz), the Persian New Year. The Persian New Year is an ancient Zoroastrian tradition celebrated by Iranians and Kurds which coincides with the vernal (spring) equinox and is calculated by the solar calendar. SAFIN HAMED / AFP

SYRIA-KURDS-NOWRUZ

Kurds dressed in traditional outfits celebrate Nowruz (Noruz) in the Kurdish-controlled city of Qamishly in northeastern Syria on March 20, 2019. Nowruz, alculated according to a solar calendar, marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP

NZEALAND-ATTACK-MOSQUE

In this photo taken on March 19, 2019, local resident Russell Falcome-Price, 43, poses next to flowers left for victims of the twin mosques massacre, at the Botanic Gardens in Christchurch with a whiteboard that reads “I’m lost for words right now. Sorry” Anthony WALLACE / AFP

 

INDIA-RELIGION-FESTIVAL-HOLI

Indian Hindu devotees are sprayed with coloured water as they celebrate the Holi festival at the Kalupur Swaminarayan Temple, in Ahmedabad on March 20, 2019. Holi, the popular Hindu spring festival of colours is observed in India at the end of the winter season on the last full moon of the lunar month. SAM PANTHAKY / AFP

NZEALAND-ATTACK-MOSQUE

Muslims (front) pray in front of the Al Noor mosque while being protected by locals, moments after hundreds performed a mass haka, in Christchurch on March 20, 2019, five days after the twin mosque shootings claimed the lives of 50 people. Anthony WALLACE / AFP

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

Pope Francis gestures as he interacts with deaf-mute people at the end of the weekly general audience on March 20, 2019 at St. Peter’s square in the Vatican. Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

SAUDI-CAMEL-FESTIVAL

Kyrgyz dancers perform in an event gathering bedouins and nomads from around the world as part of the annual King Abdulaziz Camel Festival in Rumah desert, northeast of the Saudi capital Riyadh, on March 19, 2019. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

 

MOZAMBIQUE-WEATHER-CYCLONE

A shivering displaced woman is portrayed in the doorframe of a house in Beira on March 19, 2019. More than a thousand people are feared to have died in a cyclone that smashed into Mozambique last week. EMIDIO JOSINE / AFP

NZEALAND-ATTACK-MOSQUE

A group of students (C) sings in front of flowers left in tribute to victims at the Botanical Garden in Christchurch on March 19, 2019, four days after a shooting incident at two mosques that claimed the lives of 50 people. New Zealanders have begun handing in weapons in response to government appeals following the Christchurch massacre, but the gesture has put some squarely in the social media firing line. Anthony WALLACE / AFP

US-POLITICS-TRUMP

US President Donald Trump speaks during a reception in honor of Greek Independence Day in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, March 18, 2019. SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

ZIMBABWE-WEATHER-CYCLONE

Men carry a coffin on along a makeshift path on the river in Ngangu township Chimanimani, Manicaland Province, eastern Zimbabwe, after the area was hit by the cyclone Idai. A cyclone that ripped across Mozambique and Zimbabwe has killed at least 162 people with scores more missing. Cyclone Idai tore into the centre of Mozambique on the night of March 14 before barreling on to neighbouring Zimbabwe, bringing flash floods and ferocious winds, and washing away roads and houses. Zinyange AUNTONY / AFP

SYRIA-CONFLICT

A fighter with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fires a mortar shell toward a part of Baghouz where remaining Islamic State (IS) group fighters are holding out in their last position, in the countryside of the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ezzor on March 18, 2019. A shroud of black smoke covered the Islamic State group’s last Syria redoubt today as US-backed forces battled holdout jihadists after a night of shelling and heavy air strikes. The Kurdish-led SDF have been closing in on IS fighters holed up in a small sliver of territory in the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria since January. GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP

 

BOSNIA-SERBIA-WAR CRIME-HISTORY-SURVIVOR

Vasva Smajlovic, a survivor of Srebrenica massacre in July 1995, stands next to her husband’s tombstone, during visit at the Srebrenica-Potocari memorial cemetery on March 15, 2019. Srebrenica massacre happened within ethnic cleansing campaign, in July 1995, when Bosnian Serb forces stormed the area of UN’s safe heaven of Srebrenica and killed more than of 8,000 Muslim men and boys. A total of 100,000 people were killed in Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war, which pitched Muslims, Serbs and Croats against one another as Yugoslavia fell apart. ELVIS BARUKCIC / AFP

NZEALAND-ATTACK-MOSQUE

School students perform the haka during a vigil in Christchurch on March 18, 2019, three days after a shooting incident at two mosques in the city that claimed the lives of 50 Muslim worshippers. New Zealand will tighten gun laws in the wake of its worst modern-day massacre, the government said on March 18, as it emerged that the white supremacist accused of carrying out the killings at two mosques will represent himself in court. ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP

KUWAIT-NZEALAND-ATTACK-MOSQUE

This picture taken on March 17, 2019 shows the Kuwait Towers as they display the flag of New Zealand in solidarity with the victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks in Kuwait City. The death toll from horrifying shootings at two mosques in New Zealand rose to 50, police said on March 17, as Christchurch residents flocked to memorial sites and churches across the city to lay flowers and mourn the victims. Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

ETHIOPIA-KENYA-ACCIDENT-AIRPLANE-FUNERAL

Mourners of victims of the crashed accident of Ethiopian Airlines react during the mass funeral at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 17, 2019. The crash of Flight ET 302 minutes into its flight to Nairobi on March 10 killed 157 people onboard and caused the worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft model involved in the disaster. Michael TEWELDE / AFP

FRANCE-GOVERNMENT-SOCIAL-CRISIS-POLITICS

French President Emmanuel Macron (C) presides over a crisis meeting, on March 16, 2019 at the Interior ministry in Paris, as hooded protesters went on the rampage in Paris, leaving a trail of destruction in the touristic heart of the city. Saturday’s turnout was seen a test of the ongoing strength of the Yellow Vest movement, which began in November over fuel tax hikes and quickly ballooned into a rebellion against Macron’s policies, seen by the protesters as geared towards the rich. Christophe Petit-Tesson / POOL / AFP

 

ALBANIA-POLITICS-DEMO

A masked protester holds stones as he stands in front of riot police during a demonstration held to demand the resignation of the Albanian Prime Minister, on March 16, 2019, in Tirana outside the Parliament. Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP

DRCONGO-POLITICS

Supporters of Franck Diongo, the leader of the Lumumbist Progressive Movement (MLP) political party, sing and dance ahead of his release after two years in prison on March 16, 2019 in Kinshasa. Franck Diongo was arrested during the political unrest in 2016 which called for the stepping down of former President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Joseph Kabila. JOHN WESSELS / AFP

 

FRANCE-POLITICS-SOCIAL-DEMO

A Yellow Vest protester throws a flag of Europe towards a barricade burning in front of a shop on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris on March 16, 2019, during clashes between riot police forces and Yellow Vest protesters on the 18th consecutive Saturday of demonstrations called by the ‘Yellow Vest’ (gilets jaunes) movement. Demonstrators hit French city streets again on March 16, for a 18th consecutive week of nationwide protest against the French President’s policies and his top-down style of governing, high cost of living, government tax reforms and for more “social and economic justice.” Zakaria ABDELKAFI / AFP

 

FRANCE-POLITICS-SOCIAL-DEMO

People stand outside the restaurant “Le Fouquet’s” set on fire during clashes with riot police forces on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on March 16, 2019, during the 18th consecutive Saturday of demonstrations called by the ‘Yellow Vest’ (gilets jaunes) movement. Demonstrators hit French city streets again on March 16, for a 18th consecutive week of nationwide protest against the French President’s policies and his top-down style of governing, high cost of living, government tax reforms and for more “social and economic justice.” Zakaria ABDELKAFI / AFP

FBL-ESP-LIGA-REAL MADRID-CELTA

Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane shouts from the sideline during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and RC Celta de Vigo at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on March 16, 2019. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

More Than 1,000 Feared Dead In Mozambique Storm

 

 

More than a thousand people are feared to have died in a cyclone that smashed into Mozambique last week, while scores have been killed and more than 150 are missing in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

The city of Beira in central Mozambique bore Cyclone Idai’s full wrath on Thursday before the storm barrelled on to neighbouring Zimbabwe, unleashing fierce winds and flash floods and washing away roads and houses.

“For the moment we have registered 84 deaths officially, but when we flew over the area… this morning to understand what’s going on, everything indicates that we could register more than 1,000 deaths,” Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi said in a nationwide address.

“This is a real humanitarian disaster,” he said. “More than 100,000 people are in danger”.

Aerial photographs released by a Christian non-profit organisation, the Mission Aviation Fellowship, showed groups of people stuck on roof tops with flood waters up to window level.

“The scale of damage… (in) Beira is massive and horrifying”, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said.

Ninety percent of the city of some 530,000 people and its surrounding area has been “damaged or destroyed,” it said in a statement.

“The situation is terrible. The scale of devastation is enormous,” the IFRC’s Jamie LeSueur said.

“Almost everything is destroyed. Communication lines have been completely cut and roads have been destroyed. Some affected communities are not accessible.”

A large dam burst on Sunday and cut off the last road to Beira, he said.

Sofala Province governor Alberto Mondlane warned that the “biggest threat we have now, even bigger than the cyclone, is floods because it’s raining more and more”.

‘A perfect storm’

Emma Beaty, coordinator of a grouping of NGOs known as Cosaco, said: “We’ve never had something of this magnitude before in Mozambique”.

“Some dams have broken, and others have reached full capacity, they’ll very soon open the flood gates. It’s a convergence of flooding, cyclones, dams breaking and making a potential wave: everything’s in place so we get a perfect storm.”

Nyusi said the Pungwe and Buzi rivers in central Mozambique “have burst their banks and engulfed entire villages.”

“Communities are isolated and bodies are floating” on the waters, he said.

“Flying roofing sheets beheaded people,” Rajino Paulino recounting the moment the cyclone smashed into Beira.

“We are sleeping rough, we are eating poorly and we don’t have houses anymore,” Paulino said.

Beira international airport was closed because of cyclone damage but later reopened.

Zimbabwe hit

In neighbouring Zimbabwe, Idai left 89 dead and at least 150 more missing, according to a toll compiled by AFP.

It swept away homes and ripped bridges to pieces, leaving destruction that the acting defence minister, Perrance Shiri, said “resembles the aftermath of a full-scale war”.

“There was a lot of destruction both on our facilities and on people,” said Shiri, speaking on television from the affected eastern highlands region.

Some roads were swallowed up by massive sinkholes, while bridges were ripped to pieces by flash floods, according to an AFP photographer.

“This is the worst infrastructural damage we have ever had,” Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza said.

The eastern district of Chimanimani was worst-hit, with houses and most of the region’s bridges washed away by flash floods.

The most affected areas are not yet accessible, and high winds and dense clouds have hampered military rescue helicopter flights.

Two pupils and a worker at a secondary school in the area were among those killed after a landslide sent a boulder crashing into their dormitory.

Soldiers on Sunday helped rescue the surviving nearly 200 pupils, teachers and staff who had been trapped at the school in Chimanimani.

Joshua Sacco, lawmaker for Chimanimani, told AFP that between “150 to 200 people” are missing.

The majority of them are thought to be government workers, whose housing complex was completely engulfed by raging waters. Their fate was unknown because the area was still unreachable.

“We are very worried because all these houses were just suddenly submerged under water and literally washed away and that is where we have about 147 missing,” he said.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa cut short a visit to Abu Dhabi, saying on his return home on Monday, “we are deeply grieved as a nation”.

His government has come under fire for failing to evacuate people in time.

AFP

Over 160 Dead In Zimbabwe, Mozambique As Cyclone Destroys City

This handout picture taken and released on March 18, 2019 by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) shows damages in Beira, Mozambique, in the aftermath of the passage of the cyclone Idai. Déborah NGUYEN / WFP / AFP

 

A cyclone that ripped across  Mozambique and Zimbabwe has killed at least 162 people with scores more missing and caused “massive and horrifying” destruction in the Mozambican city of Beira, authorities and the Red Cross said Monday.

Cyclone Idai tore into the center of Mozambique on Thursday night before barreling on to neighbouring Zimbabwe, bringing flash floods and ferocious winds, and washing away roads and houses.

“The scale of damage caused by cyclone Idai that hit the Mozambican city of Beira is massive and horrifying”, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said in a statement.

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It said 90 percent of the city of some 530,000 people and its surrounding area had been “damaged or destroyed”

“The situation is terrible. The scale of devastation is enormous,” the IFRC’s Jamie LeSueur was quoted as saying in the statement.

“Almost everything is destroyed. Communication lines have been completely cut and roads have been destroyed. Some affected communities are not accessible,” he said.

A large dam burst on Sunday and cut off the last road to Beira, he said.

A toll compiled Monday by AFP from official sources puts the death toll in Mozambique at 73, including 55 in Beira alone, and 89 in Zimbabwe.

At least 150 more are missing in Zimbabwe, many of them believed to government workers whose housing complex was engulfed by floods.

Mozambique’s environment minister, Celso Correia, warned that the death tally would rise.

“I think this is the biggest natural disaster Mozambique has ever faced. Everything is destroyed,” he told AFP on Sunday night said at Beira international airport, which re-opened after being temporarily closed because of cyclone damage.

In Zimbabwe, Idai swept away homes and ripped bridges to pieces, leaving a trail of destruction that the acting defence minister, Perrance Shiri, said: “resembles the aftermath of a full-scale war”.

“There was a lot of destruction both on our facilities and on people,” said Shiri speaking on television from the affected eastern highlands region.

Roads have been swallowed by massive sinkholes, while bridges were ripped to pieces by flash floods, according to an AFP photographer.

“This is the worst infrastructural damage we have ever had,” Zimbabwean Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza said.

School hit 

Zimbabwe’s eastern district of Chimanimani was the worst-hit part of the country, with houses and most of the bridges washed away by flash floods.

The most affected areas are not yet accessible, and high winds and dense clouds have hampered military rescue helicopter flights.

Two pupils and a worker at a secondary school in the area were among those killed after a landslide sent a boulder crashing into their dormitory.

Soldiers on Sunday helped rescue the surviving nearly 200 pupils, teachers and staff who had been trapped at the school in Chimanimani.

“The teachers and school authorities are making all efforts to ensure the children arrive and we take them home but it seems the situation is getting worse,” one unnamed parent told the state broadcaster ZBC, as she raised concerns about the ongoing rains.

Joshua Sacco, lawmaker for Chimanimani, told AFP by phone, that between “150 to 200 people” are missing.

The majority of them are thought to be government workers, whose housing complex was completely engulfed by raging waters. Their fate is currently unknown because the area is still unreachable.

“We are very worried because all these houses were just suddenly submerged under water and literally washed away and that is where we have about 147 missing,” he said.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who cut short a visit to Abu Dhabi, said on arrival on Monday, “we are deeply grieved as a nation”.

AFP

At Least 31 Dead As Cyclone Idai Hits Eastern Zimbabwe

At Least 31 Dead As Cyclone Idai Hits Eastern Zimbabwe

 

At least 31 people have been killed and dozens are missing as tropical cyclone Idai hit eastern parts of Zimbabwe after lashing neighbouring Mozambique, the government said on Saturday.

Most of the deaths were in Chimanimani town, Zimbabwe’s information ministry announced on Twitter.

Two of the victims were students who died after a landslide sent a boulder crashing into their dormitory, collapsing the wall of the dining room and trapping 50 of them, the country’s Department of  Civil Protection (DCP) said in a statement.

The boarding school has been shut and the army, which is leading rescue operations, is moving in to take the nearly 200 students to safety.

“So far a total of 71 people are reported missing,” said the DCP.

Others who had fled their homes were stranded on top of a mountain waiting to be rescued, including workers from a diamond mine, as strong winds and poor visibility hampered helicopter flights, the government said.

The storm damaged many houses and washed away bridges in the eastern Manicaland province which borders Mozambique. Thousands of people have been affected by power cuts and flooding, a lawmaker told AFP.

Earlier Saturday, Joshua Sacco, an MP in Chimanimani district, told AFP that more than 100 people were missing. Around 100 houses had been swept away in Ngangu township in Chimanimani town, he said.

Strong winds ripped roofs off prison cells in the southern city of Masvingo, according to state broadcaster ZBC.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change called for immediate help for the storm-hit east, warning that a “serious humanitarian crisis” was unfolding.

“We need state intervention on a massive scale to avoid biblical disaster,” MDC spokesman Jacob Mafume wrote on Twitter.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is currently on a visit to Abu Dhabi, has declared a state of disaster in the affected areas.

“My thoughts & prayers are with all those affected by Cyclone Idai. Rescue operations are underway & we are grateful for the bravery of the men & women of the Zimbabwean armed forces who, along with our local & international partners, are participating in the urgent rescue efforts,” he tweeted.

– ‘Dire situation’ –

Tropical cyclone Idai battered central Mozambique on Friday killing at least 21 people there and cutting off more than half a million residents of the port city Beira.

Even before the cyclone made landfall on Friday, heavy rains earlier in the week had already claimed 66 lives and forced 17,000 people from their homes in Mozambique, local officials said.

They also affected neighbouring Malawi, where 56 people died.

As the cyclone hit, Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi appealed for emergency assistance for the victims before leaving for eSwatini.

“We have compatriots suffering without hope and we have to restore hope,” he said on Friday as he set off on a three-day state visit to the kingdom previously known as Swaziland.

But in a statement Saturday his office said he was cutting short the eSwatini trip and would travel to the affected central regions on Sunday.

As the cyclone approached, the Red Cross sent out more than 200 volunteers to areas most likely to be affected.

“The situation is dire but we don’t know the exact particulars,” said Jamie LeSueur, the Red Cross’s roving emergency operations manager for Africa.

The crisis requires a swift response with “the full force of the humanitarian community behind the government of Mozambique,” he told AFP.

– South Africa rations electricity –

Beira’s international airport was closed after the cyclone damaged the air traffic control tower, the navigation systems and the runways.

The storm also affected power supplies to neighbouring South Africa which imports electricity from Mozambique to supplement its own production.

South Africa’s power utility company Eskom on Saturday introduced electricity rationing.

AFP