Cyclone Idai was the deadliest storm to strike Mozambique in at least 3 decades
This satellite image of Cyclone Idai was taken on Monday, March 11, 2019. (NOAA)
More than 900,000 oral cholera vaccines arrived in Mozambique for the launch of a vaccination campaign Wednesday, three weeks after Tropical Cyclone Idai barreled into the country packing the power equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane and leaving mass devastation in its wake. There have been two reported deaths from cholera with more than 1,400 other recently confirmed cases, The Associated Press reported.
"The next few weeks are crucial and speed is of the essence if we are to save lives and limit suffering," World Health Organization (WHO) regional director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said in a statement.
Tropical Cyclone Idai struck March 11 and is the deadliest storm to hit Mozambique in the last 30 years, according to AccuWeather research. Records for Mozambique beyond the 1970s are less reliable.
Idai has been blamed for killing 598 people in Mozambique so far, with officials saying that the death toll is a preliminary number and that the real figure may never be known; it's possible some people were washed away or quickly buried in the throes of the storm. Idai also killed at least 259 people in neighboring Zimbabwe and at least 56 in Malawi, officials have said.
The powerful cyclone has also displaced more than 128,000 people in Mozambique, which is located on the coast of southeast Africa and is the world’s 36th-largest country.
The previous deadliest storm to hit Mozambique was Cyclone Nadia in 1994, which killed 240 people and displaced 170,000. Cyclone Leon-Eline in 2000 killed 150 people and displaced 220,000, while Chedza in 2015 killed 120 and displaced 260,000, according to AccuWeather data. The flooding and the resulting mudslides in 2017 in Africa, which killed more than 1,200 people, is among other tragedies with higher death tolls historically in the country.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called it "one of the worst weather-related catastrophes in the history of Africa."