'Lots of dead’, ‘water full of snakes’: cyclone survivors recount
Photo: Twitter / @claudioafrica
Mozambique’s publicly owned electricity company, EDM, has admitted that it cannot restore electricity to the cyclone damaged city of Beira in the immediate future, according to a company source cited by the independent newssheet “Carta de Moçambique”.
Cyclone Idai hit Beira on Thursday and knocked out the electricity and water supply systems. The cyclone also plunged the neighbouring province of Manica into darkness, but by Saturday morning EDM was able to restore power along the main highway from Zimbabwe through Manica and almost as far as Dondo, 54 kilometres from Beira.
The main problem in restoring power to Beira itself is that a key substation in the Beira suburb of Munhava is under water and until the water level drops, it is impossible for EDM to repair the damage. To make matters worse, large numbers of medium and low voltage pylons were knocked down by the cyclone throughout the city.
EDM has mobilised teams from Maputo and Quelimane to assist its brigades in Beira. Re-erecting the pylons and switching the power back on will take time, warned EDM director, Carlos Yum. “A great deal of care is necessary”, he said.
The losses for Beira businesses and families are enormous. It is not only electricity that has failed, so have communications. Dozens of cell phone towers of all three mobile phone operators, Tmcel, Vodacom and Movitel, have been knocked out in Beira and in the entire surrounding region. The Tmcel fixed line was working until Saturday morning and then it too went down. The Tmcel Chairperson, Mohommed Rafik, said company teams are working to restore communication, but he described the situation as “very serious, a real calamity.”
The three companies have put their rivalries aside for the moment and are working together to restore at least voice communications, if not the internet. But the infrastructure supporting satellite communications has completely collapsed.
The Tmcel fibre optic cable to central Mozambique was cut, but the company is attempting to activate radio transmitters to restore some traffic to the fixed network. Rafik says it will take months to return to normal.
Operations center established at #Beira airport supporting humanitarian response in parts of #Mozambique affected by Cyclone #Idai. Comms services from partners https://t.co/Mq17DV08xx , @EricssonSustain ,@TSF_Intl will enable efficient response. pic.twitter.com/GroTxDu2Nj
— ETCluster (@ETCluster) March 18, 2019
In the Mozambique Channel off the coast of Beira, all shipping remains banned. The cyclone severely damaged Beira port including 2 dredges belonging to the Mozambican Dredging company EMODRAGA. One major fishing company had the foresight to move its boats from Beira to Inhambane, thus avoiding the cyclone.
Much of Beira’s daily life has come to a standstill. There is a shortage of food and it is impossible for the bakeries to work. Shops and restaurants are closed. Many buildings lost their roofs, and in the poor neighbourhoods, homes built of flimsy material were destroyed by the cyclone. But there is still no preliminary estimate of the scale and cost of the damage.
— Duarte Gouveia (@duarteg0uveia) March 14, 2019
The night lights of Beira, Mozambique – home to half a million people – shine through Feb 2019 until the 14th of March, when the devastating cyclone Idai strikes cutting off power, communication and roads. Seen though the VIIRS sensor onboard the Suomi NPP satellite @NASAEarth pic.twitter.com/UEUFLlz8XT
— Glenn Moncrieff (@Glennwithtwons) March 18, 2019
— IFRC Intl. Federation #RedCross #RedCrescent (@ifrc) March 18, 2019
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) March 18, 2019
— Marc Nosbach (@NosbachMarc) March 18, 2019
Beira isolated. Half a million people without drinkable water,electricity, mobile and internet network, fuel. Airport reopened this morning but motorway EN 6 disrupted by fallen trees and flooding waters pic.twitter.com/oTXCVBeFGr
— Claudio Zuccala (@claudioafrica) March 17, 2019
— Don Purka (@PurkaDon) March 18, 2019