An “inland ocean” the size of Luxembourg has devastated a massive swath of Mozambique. When Cyclone Idai hit the country last week, it brought heavy winds, massive rains in what has been called the worst storm ever to strike that region of Africa.

Satellite imagery from the European Space Agency reveals that is also caused a massive flood plane, about 125km by 25km. This is the size of the country of Luxembourg.

Here are before and after photos of the parts of Mozambique currently submerged.

Credit: European Space Agency

Credit: European Space Agency. Darkened areas are a massive flood plane

 

Facts and Figures of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique

The latest update from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reveals a desperate situation on the ground.

As of March 24th, the death toll is 446, though that figure is expected to rise as more areas become accessible.

Some 110,000 people are displaced across over 130 makeshift encampments.

Over 1 million children affected, according to UNICEF

The government is reporting a increasing numbers of a deadly form of acute watery diarrhea.

Meanwhile, power and water services are restored to parts of the main city of Beira, but much of the rest of the region is in dark

The response by international humanitarian agencies is ramping up, including airdrops of food and medicines.  From OCHA:

In Beira, a grid-based system has been put in place to assess and prioritize areas for airlift of essential life-saving kits. An MI-8 transport helicopter contracted by the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) is airdropping inter-agency emergency kits, including food (high-energy biscuits (HEBs) and micronutrient-rich peanut paste used to prevent and treat malnutrition) as well as tents, medicines and other essentials for stranded communities outside Beira. WFP-funded drones are supporting rapid assessments with the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) and locating survivors trapped in the flooded areas in Sofala. Bilateral support is increasing, with the arrival of both Search and Rescue (SAR) and Emergency Medical Teams (EMT). Two UNHAS MI-8s helicopters and a C295 cargo plane are now operational in Beira.

The crisis stretched beyond Mozambique, to neighboring countries that were also affected. From OCHA

 

Credit: OCHA

This is a massive humanitarian disaster and by far the worst natural disaster to strike this region in recent history. We can expect the Cyclone Idai response to be a major focus of the UN and humanitarian NGOs for several months.

 

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