Via the Vatican news, the head of the Roman Catholic Church is urging prayers and support to all the million victims of Cyclone Idai which has caused widespread destruction and flooding in the Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.
Pope Francis made the appeal at the Wednesday General Audience held in St. Peter’s Square.
“In recent days, great floods have sowed mourning and devastation in various areas of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. I express my pain and closeness to those dear people.
I entrust the many victims and their families to the mercy of God, and I implore comfort and support for those affected by this calamity,” he said.
With these heartfelt words, Pope Francis expressed his condolences for the families of over 350 people killed by Cyclone Idai, and his solidarity with the millions of people affected.
The powerful storm made landfall on the coast of Mozambique last Thursday, packing winds of up to 177 km/h (106 mph) and bringing torrential rain, before spreading death and destruction halfway across southeast Africa.
A week after the hit, the death, damage and flooding continue Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, making it one of the most destructive natural disasters in the region’s recent history.
Floodwaters are rushing across the plains of central Mozambique, submerging homes, villages and entire towns. The flooding has created a muddy inland ocean 50 kilometres wide where there used to be farms and villages, giving credence to Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi’s estimate that 1,000 people may have been killed.
Hundreds of people have been confirmed dead and hundreds of thousands more have been affected by what the UN says could be “one of the worst weather-related disasters ever to hit the southern hemisphere”.
Entire villages have been destroyed in Mozambique and Zimbabwe and most of the inhabitants swept away as rescuers race to save tens of thousands of people trapped by flood waters from Cyclone Idai.
Aid groups are now struggling to reach survivors trapped in remote areas where villages were submerged. More helicopters and boats are being sent to help with the operation, and donors and humanitarian organisations have pledged support.
Thousands are “stranded on rooftops, in trees and other elevated areas”, according to UNICEF spokesperson Christophe Boulierac.
It is feared the situation could get worse in both Mozambique and Zimbabwe, with heavy rain set to continue.
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