Recalling the nightmarish moments of Cyclone Idai: 'The last hour was the most dangerous'

2019-03-23 19:53

It felt like a nightmare as the wrath of Cyclone Idai rained down for hours from the evening to about 04:00 the next morning.

Cyclone Idai smashed into the coast of central Mozambique on Friday last week, unleashing hurricane-force winds and rains that flooded the hinterland.

"The last hour was the most dangerous," Fabrizio Graglia of the Associação Moçambicana Esmabam told News24.

He explained that strong winds, that reached about 230km/h, deceitfully diminished for a few minutes before attacking more forcefully to destroy the last houses that withstood the destruction of the night.

Graglia said his rented house that he has been living in for the past five years is now dilapidated.

"Our houses have become swimming pools. We had to protect ourselves with mattresses to avoid being hit by glass and objects," he recalls.

"Small animals were literally blown away and are now hanging dead from trees and on roofs."

"This cyclone has left behind only death and destruction," said Graglia.

At least 417 people have died in Mozambique, according to government. More than two million people have been affected in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and in Malawi where the storm started as a tropical depression.

PICS: Doctor in Moz treats patient in the dark: 'I only took a break to go home and bath'

Graglia noted that in the days following the cyclone, the power went out, communication was blocked out, and there was no access to fuel, food, roads, ATMs and banks.

"There is no standing light pole, trees blocked the streets and no shop or market is operational.

"The schools, our office, the hospitals that have remained standing have become the refuge of hundreds of families who have lost everything.

"We have only eaten oranges and avocados for three days [since the cyclone landed] and we have had to ration drinking water."

Getting information also proved futile.

'The road had been swallowed and, in its place, stood a lake with crocodiles'

"I asked two of our sailors to go to Barada's Mission to get some information, but the sea and the wind did not allow navigation," said Graglia.

"I then asked one of our drivers to take the land route, but after 40 km he had to go back to the city because the road had been swallowed and, in its place, stood a lake with crocodiles".

Cyclone Idai

(Image: Felix Dlangamandla/Netwerk24)

He said that he was told by people who had walked for two days to Beira that entire villages with homes and people have disappeared.

The President of the Republic of Mozambique at the time announced that the districts of: Buzi (Barada and Estaquinha), Chibabava (Mangunde) and Marromeu were completely isolated from the rest of the country.

"I am shattered, especially seeing panic on the faces of those who fear for their life and that of their loved ones," he says.

"We need urgent help."

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Read more on:    mozambique  |  southern africa  |  cyclone idai

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