‘It’s A Ghost Place’: Cyclone Idai Devastates Beira, Mozambique’s Fourth-Largest City

On the cramped Ethiopian Airlines flight into the Mozambican coastal city of Beira, the view from the window turns from a patchwork of waterways, green pastures and plains to a sea the colour of brown clay.

Approaching the country’s fourth-largest city, the channels of the River Buzi look like black tentacles against the earthy pall of the floods. Rows of treetops are above the water level.

Floodwater stretches for 130 kilometres across Mozambique. In some places it is up to 25km wide.

Beneath it are villages, thousands of homes, uncounted hectares of farmland and drowned livestock. More than 750 people are confirmed dead across the former Portuguese colony and neighbouring Malawi and Zimbabwe.

An aerial survey offers only a broad sense of the tragedy unfolding since Cyclone Idai blew through the city and the surrounding province of Sofala, with winds of nearly 200kph.

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