The most important news in our country this week surrounds the heavy flooding in KwaZulu Natal, in which up to 280mm of rain fell within 12 hours on Monday. It seems the maximum rainfall was just South of Durban central, and the news media were full of pictures of parts of Amanzimtoti washed away, water coming down in floods from high-lying areas, and a slowly increasing death toll.
On Wednesday morning, Keith Lowes ZS5WFD, Regional Director of HAMNET KwaZulu Natal, reported that search and rescue missions were continuing around the Durban area.
Members from DBN Search and Rescue along with DBN K9SAR, Metro Police SAR, NSRI, RescueTech, Life Response EMS, IPSS Medical Rescue and DUT Emergency Medicine Instructors responded to 28 callouts ranging from Structural Collapses, Drownings, Mudslides and Entrapments, all related to the Extreme Weather conditions in and around the Durban area.
Keith reported that the Members had worked right through for a total of 38 continuous hours. On Wednesday morning members from Pietermaritzburg (PMB) SAR, and PMB and Umhlali K9SAR were mobilized to assist in the Rescue and Recovery efforts.
A total of 24 bodies were recovered and 15 people were rescued from life threatening situations. By that time there were still 3 people missing, presumed deceased at various places.
Later in the week, the death-toll was raised to about 50, and clearing of debris at collapsed sites, and on the local beaches, continues.
The most important news in our region this week, surrounds Cyclone Kenneth, which arrived from the East, and battered the Northern coast of Mozambique. Business Insider reports that Kenneth, classified at one stage as a category 4 cyclone, smashed into the northern parts of Mozambique on Thursday evening with wind speeds of up to 280 km/h.
Three people are dead in northern Mozambique after Cyclone Kenneth made a historic landfall late on Thursday, and flooding rain will put more lives and property in peril in the coming days.
Kenneth is the first tropical cyclone with the equivalent of hurricane strength to strike Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado since modern record-keeping began 60 years ago. According to the U.N., the strike by Kenneth marked the first time in recorded history that Mozambique has been hit by two powerful cyclones in the same season. Last month, the central part of the country was slammed by Cyclone Idai, which resulted in hundreds of fatalities.
The dangerous cyclone made landfall in Cabo Delgado, about 100 km north of Pemba, at the end of the day on Thursday, local time. Kenneth had 10-minute maximum sustained winds of 200 km/h, the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic or eastern Pacific oceans, as it moved onshore.
Meteo France estimates a life-threatening storm surge of 3-5 meters occurred along the coast, just south of landfall.
Red Cross teams in northern Mozambique are reporting serious damage in towns and communities that were struck by Kenneth on Thursday night. One woman was killed by a falling tree in Pemba, according to The Associated Press. Two other people were killed on Ibo Island. Prior to reaching Mozambique, Kenneth killed three people in the island nation of Comoros on Wednesday night.
About 90 percent of homes, which were mostly made of mud, may have been destroyed in the main village on Ibo Island, Mozambique. Ibo is located near where Kenneth barrelled onshore.
Electricity was cut on Ibo Island, where many residents also lost cell-phone service when the cyclone downed a tower. There are also reports of “extensive damage” to homes in Quissanga, according to AP. Four ships sank offshore of Palma, but everyone survived.
Significant power outages plagued Pemba, where winds gusted to 70 km/h weather-recording instruments stopped reporting.
While its strong winds have dramatically weakened, Kenneth will crawl through north-eastern Mozambique this weekend and continue to unleash downpours. More lives and property are at risk as the heavy rain can trigger new, or exacerbate ongoing, flooding problems.
“A flooding disaster can unfold in Cabo Delgado where Kenneth slammed onshore,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski. “Additional downpours into this weekend can push the AccuWeather Local StormMax™ to 600 mm of rain.
The heavy rain can cause streams, rivers and coastal waterways to flood neighbouring land and communities.
“This is a life-threatening situation as the hardest-hit areas can be put underwater,” Pydynowski warned. “Those needing to be rescued may only be able to be reached by boat or helicopters.”
Flooding downpours from Kenneth can also stream into eastern parts of the Mozambique province of Nampula, as well as graze neighbouring southern Tanzania.
Muidumbe, Mucojo, Nacaroa, Montepuez, Pemba and Nacala are among the communities facing flooding. All evacuation orders are to be followed.
Mudslides can be triggered and endanger those living on hillsides.
“A few thunderstorms can also rumble around Kenneth’s centre, which can further hinder rescue, recovery and storm clean-up efforts,” Pydynowski said.
Prior to Kenneth striking Mozambique, Reuters reports that around 30,000 people were evacuated to safer buildings such as schools.
“Aside from storm damage, the greatest risk will immediately be from flooding due to heavy rains. Rivers within this region of Mozambique may flood, especially as at least one of the dams is already close to full capacity, preventing flood water from being retained. This will make it almost impossible to distribute aid as roads will become impassable,” said Marc Nosbach, CARE Mozambique’s country director.
The areas being affected by Kenneth were largely spared from any of former Tropical Cyclone Idai’s destruction in March.
Kenneth first brought heavy rainfall to parts of Madagascar from Monday into Wednesday. The cyclone then lashed the island nation of Comoros, killing three people. Several other people sustained injuries, according to Reuters.
Thank you to Accuweather for these reports.
HAMNET South Africa is not aware of any activations of ham nets during the storm, but operators were asked to avoid frequencies around 7090 to 7100 kHz LSB in case they unintentionally caused QRM.
And finally, another shameless plug for vaccinating your children. Celebrated in the last week of April, World Immunization Week aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. Immunization saves millions of lives every year and is widely recognized as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions.
Yet, there are still nearly 20 million unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children in the world today. This year’s #VaccinesWork campaign comes at a critical time. It will involve all of us – from governments, to health workers and individuals, in our role as parents, teachers, family members or friends – to ensure every person is vaccinated at the right time, and that we remain protected together.
This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR in Division 5, reporting for HAMNET South Africa.