Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Beira, Mozambique

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies found that 90 percent of Beira, Mozambique was destroyed by Tropical Cyclone Idai after experiencing a direct hit last Thursday. (Caroline Haga/IFRC)

'Everything Is Destroyed': 90% of Mozambique Port City Wrecked by Tropical Cyclone Idai

"The people who've done the least to change the climate suffer the most."

Jessica Corbett

Hundreds of people were killed and many more remain missing after a tropical cyclone destroyed 90 percent of the port city of Beira, Mozambique, before moving on to Malawi and Zimbabwe—eliciting fresh demands for bolder efforts to battle the climate crisis that is making extreme weather more common and devastating.

An initial assessment from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Monday found that 90 percent of the city and the surrounding area "is completely destroyed" after experiencing a direct hit from Cyclone Idai last Thursday.

"The situation is terrible. The scale of devastation is enormous," said Jamie LeSueur, who is leading the IFRC team into Beira. "Communication lines have been completely cut and roads have been destroyed. Some affected communities are not accessible."

"I think this is the biggest natural disaster Mozambique has ever faced," Celso Correia, the country's environment minister, told the South Africa-based Mail & Guardian. "Everything is destroyed. Our priority now is to save human lives."

Citing the Red Cross and government officials, The Associated Press reported Monday that across the three African countries, "more than 215 people have been killed by the storm, hundreds more are missing, and more than 1.5 million people have been affected by the widespread destruction and flooding."

However, LeSueur noted, aid workers and government officials are still working to access the damage: "Beira has been severely battered. But we are also hearing that the situation outside the city could be even worse. [Sunday], a large dam burst and cut off the last road to the city."

Speaking to state-owned Radio Mozambique on Monday, President Filipe Nyusi said the death toll may surpass 1,000 people in his country alone.

As aerial footage began to circulate online Monday, the emerging sense of devastation provoked calls for the world to "wake up" to the reality of the global climate crisis:

Bill McKibben, co-founder of the environmental group 350.org, tweeted a reminder on Monday that "the people who've done the least to change the climate suffer the most."

An editorial published Monday by Zimbabwe's state-owned daily newspaper, The Herald, called the storm a "wake-up call to climate change." As the editorial reads:

The increase in cyclones and other extreme weather phenomena like droughts and floods, clearly indicate that climate change effects are intensifying... While we cannot completely stop climate change, there is much the government can do to adapt to the weather phenomenon. After all the tumult surrounding Cyclone Idai dies down, it will be critical for government to have a re-look at the adaptive strategies to climate change which it has put in place.

While recognizing that in the short term, "there is urgent need for medicines, shelter, food, and new homes for the survivors of Cyclone Idai," the editorial calls for a long-term "holistic approach to fighting the effects of climate change and ensure that communities are cushioned even in the event of devastating cyclones."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

UN Chief Reminds Leaders of Need for 'Clear and Unambiguous Commitment' to 1.5°C

"There is no pathway to this goal without the leadership of the G20," he said after a disagreement over a climate communiqué.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Climate Change Is Here,' Says Oregon Governor, 'And We Have to Take Action'

As wildfires devour her state, the Democrat declares that the climate emergency is "like a hammer hitting us in the head."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Hello Somebody!' Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Campaigns for Nina Turner in Cleveland

"I think it's extremely clear that Nina Turner is the candidate in this race that answers to the people of Ohio first and foremost."

Jessica Corbett ·


Medicare for All Advocates Take to the Streets of Over 50 US Cities

"How can we have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness when we live in constant fear of illness, bankruptcy, or homelessness because of the outrageous for-profit healthcare system?"

Jessica Corbett ·


Thousands Join Budapest Pride Parade to Protest Attacks on LGBTQ+ Hungarians

"A lot has happened over the last few years, and it's time to show that we're not okay with it," said one of the organizers.

Jessica Corbett ·