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PSI mourns death and destruction left by Cyclone Idai

21 March 2019
PSI is devastated and heartbroken at the death and destruction caused by tropical Cyclone Idai which roared into Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi on 14-15 March. Over 500 people have so far been confirmed dead, but the death toll is feared to be much higher as affected areas continue to receive news of more casualties.

It is estimated that 90% of the city of Beira (in Mozambique), home to about 500 000 people, was destroyed or partly damaged by the cyclone. 100 people have so far been reported dead, but when the President toured the city, he concluded that up to 1000 people may have died in the storm. In Southern Malawi, over 14 districts are still in need of aid. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is trying to serve over 920 000 people who have been affected in the country. In Zimbabwe, over 100 people have died and this figure is rising. The worst affected area is the Chimanimani town in Manicaland, which borders with Mozambique.

The cyclone and accompanying rains and flooding, have destroyed homes, roads, infrastructure, farms, and have led to dams bursting. Thousands of people have been left without shelter, food, or access to water and electricity. Rescue efforts are struggling to access survivors, as many can only be reached by boat or by air.

Those who have managed to escape by climbing onto rooftops, or walking for hours to escape the flooding, have now to rebuild their homes, lives and mourn the loss of relatives and neighbours. PSI sends our deepest condolences to all those who have lost their loved ones and offer our solidarity and support to those who have suffered material loss.

We salute the dedication and sacrifices of public emergency service workers who are struggling around the clock to find the injured and to save lives and treat the sick and injured, in the most difficult working circumstances. 

As public service unions, our members have a tough job ahead to rebuild the public services in their towns, villages and neighbourhoods. This includes hospitals, clinics and schools and infrastructure to restore water, electricity, mobility and other essential services.

Finally, PSI notes that we must focus on the effects of climate change. This disaster is indicative of the growing frequency and intensity of natural events caused by climate change.  It is always the poor and most vulnerable who are the worst affected and it is heart-breaking watching people’s lives and livelihoods destroyed. As we mourn and try to grapple with the scale of the crisis, we urge all countries and global corporations to inwardly reflect on what urgently needs to be done to curb climate change and put an end to such devastating loss of lives.

We wish Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi strength and stand with you in this very hard time.

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