Severe winds and heavy rains wrecked thousands of buildings, ruined crops and displacing thousands in Mozambique over the weekend, officials said in their first detailed report on the disaster.
Parts of central Mozambique were flooded after Cyclone Eloise struck near the port city of Beira with wind speeds of up to 160km/h (100mph).
Beira received 250mm (10 inches) of rain in 24 hours, according to Mozambique’s National Institute of Meteorology (INAM).
Eloise had ruined 136,755 hectares of crops, destroyed nine schools and damaged about 17 other schools and 11 hospitals, Mozambique’s National Institute for Disaster Risk Management and Reduction said in a statement.
Local officials and aid agencies are assessing the scale of the damage so they can help those affected, and trying to restore power and communications, which were cut off in some areas.
Four people have been killed, according to local officials.
The cyclone has now been downgraded to a tropic storm and was forecast to be heading towards Zimbabwe and northern South Africa, which have already experienced heavy rainfall.
Chris Neeson, who works for the UN in Beira said: “It was impossible to sleep because of the noise and fear.”
“I heard so much wind and rain in the early hours of the morning. Water entered my home, as well as rocks and leaves that had flown off my neighbours’ homes. Electricity has been down from last night and we’ve been unable to make calls.
“When I went outside, there was water everywhere – up to my knees – and trees, electrical wires, roof tiles, and fences all destroyed, strewn about on the streets. Thank God it has stopped raining. I never thought I would be afraid of water, but this was horrible,” he said.
More than 1,000 houses have been totally destroyed and another 3,000 badly damaged, according to Antonio Beleza, from Mozambique’s National Institute for Disaster Management and Reduction. He said more than 160,000 people had been directly affected.
The region is still recovering from two devastating cyclones, Idai and Kenneth, which hit in 2019, killing hundreds and forcing many thousands from their homes.