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More than 1,000 people feared dead in southern hemisphere’s “worst” cyclone disaster

Posted on: March 20, 2019 8:21 AM
Beira, the fourth largest city in Mozambique, is underwater as a result of Cyclone Idai
Photo Credit: WFP / UN

A new “inland ocean” has been created in Mozambique as a result of Cyclone Idai, which has been described as the worst weather-related disaster to hit southern Africa. President Filipe Nyusi has warned that more than 1,000 people are likely to have been killed in Mozambique alone by the cyclone, which also caused death and destruction in Madagascar, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe – an area served by three Anglican provinces: Central Africa, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean.

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, which includes Mozambique and South Africa, the Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, said: “I offer our deepest condolences and express our heartfelt pain at the loss of life and property caused by the destructive effects of Cyclone Idai across southern Africa.

“We want to assure the affected Dioceses in Mozambique – the Diocese of Lebombo led by Bishop Carlos Matsinhe and the Diocese of Niassa led by Bishop Vicente Msosa – of our prayers. Please pray also for the Dioceses in Malawi and Zimbabwe in our neighbouring Province of Central Africa which were affected.”

In his message, Archbishop Thabo has urged Anglicans in Southern Africa to donate to the Province’s Disaster Relief Fund.

“There has been a lot of destruction of all sorts of buildings. Many people have been left with no shelter and no food”, the bishop of Lebombo, Carlos Matsinhe, said. “Consequently health conditions of the people will deteriorate soon. And because this storm has damaged power lines there is no communication so we know very little of the details of destruction.”

The bishop called for prayers, particularly for the Púngue Archdeacony, which is the area most affected. “Pray for the 11 parishes / pastoral zones and their parish priests and lay ministers as the seek wisdom to minister and comfort with God’s word and presence”, he said.

The Bishop of Harare, Chad Gandiya, who was preparing to launch a campaign for improved healthcare provision in Zimbabwe before Cyclone Idai struck, said that many people have been left homeless as a result of the disaster. After visiting a couple of hospitals, he described the situation as “desperate”.

“I am a member and chairperson of the newly formed organisation called Save Our Hospitals initiative in Zimbabwe set up to help source for what’s urgently required in our hospitals”, he said. “With the help of the clinical directors who are also members of this new organisation, a list of the urgently required medicines and sundries has been produced for each of the major government hospitals. . . We are trying to negotiate with airlines to fly in some of the donations free. We are thus appealing to friends and well-wishers to assist in securing these supplies which are desperately needed.

In a statement, the Save Our Hospitals initiative said that “We have a double crisis on our hands and as we always do, our people are on the forefront doing the best they can to help citizens who are in trouble due to the Cyclone or needing help in our hospitals.”

The campaign has arranged for two UK-based freight companies to fly donated supplies to Zimbabwe.

The Anglican Alliance, the official agency which helps the various national and regional Anglican development agencies work in a coordinated way, has reached out to the bishops in affected dioceses in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe to offer solidarity and prayer at this time.

“It is inspiring to hear how the local dioceses and Mothers’ Union are already mobilising support for the communities impacted by this devastating cyclone”, Executive Director Rachel Carnegie said. “The Anglican Alliance stands ready to liaise with the dioceses on the ground and the wider Anglican Communion in their response to this disaster.”

The current death toll from the disaster is 432: 268 in Mozambique, 98 in Zimbabwe, 56 in Malawi, seven in South Africa, and three in Madagascar. More than 2.5 million people are said to be affected.