Cyclone hits Kenya and Tanzania already hit by floods

Cyclone hits Kenya and Tanzania already hit by floods
Cyclone hits Kenya and Tanzania already hit by floods

Beaches are deserted and many shops closed on Saturday in Kenya and Tanzania as heavy rains and tropical cyclone winds battered coastal areas of the two neighboring East African countries.

Kenya and Tanzania are on alert for Cyclone Hidaya after weeks of torrential rains and floods which ravaged many parts of East Africa and left more than 400 dead.

But no casualties or damage had been reported as of Saturday afternoon as the cyclone made landfall in Tanzania from the Indian Ocean.

“It’s so strange today to see so few people at the beach, we are used to seeing crowds especially during the weekend,” said Yusuf Hassan, a resident of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s main city. . “People are scared”.

The Kenyan meteorological department said in a bulletin on Saturday that the effects of the cyclone were already being felt offshore, with winds exceeding 75 km/h and waves of more than 2 m.

Heavy rainfall along the Indian Ocean coast is expected from Sunday and is expected to intensify over the next two days, it warned.

“Current observations suggest that tropical cyclone Hidaya has made landfall on the Tanzanian coast. But there is another depression developing behind it,” he added. Tanzanian authorities did not immediately confirm.

Kenyan Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki announced a ban on all beach, swimming and fishing activities.

– “Maximum precautions” –

The Tanzania Meteorological Authority noted strong winds and heavy rainfall along the coasts overnight on Saturday.

In the Mtwara region, 75.5 mm of rain fell in 12 hours, while the average rainfall for the month of May is 54 mm.

The Tanzanian agency asked residents in risk areas and people working in the maritime sector to take “maximum precautions”.

The cyclone is expected to peak with gusts of 165 km/h upon landfall, the regional climate center ICPAC said on Friday.

In the Zanzibar archipelago, all maritime transport has been suspended.

“We think it is not safe to travel in such weather conditions caused by the cyclone,” Zanzibar Maritime Authority director general Sheikha Ahmed Mohamed told AFP.

The cyclone season in the southwest Indian Ocean usually lasts from November to April and sees around a dozen storms each year.

– “No corner spared” –

Kenyan President William Ruto on Friday judged the weather forecasts “terrible” for the country, which will face the first cyclone in its history, and postponed indefinitely the reopening of schools scheduled for Monday.

About 400 people have been killed in East Africa since March and tens of thousands have been displaced by torrential rains that have caused floods and landslides, swept away homes and destroyed roads and bridges.

In Kenya, during this period, at least 210 people died and nearly 100 others were missing while 165,000 people were displaced, according to official figures.

“No corner of our country has been spared from this devastation,” summarized the president.

The Interior Ministry on Thursday ordered anyone living near large rivers or near 178 “dams or reservoirs filled or almost filled with water” to evacuate the area within 24 hours.

Mr Kindiki said 138 camps had been set up to provide temporary shelter to more than 62,000 people displaced by the floodwaters.

Members of the opposition and civil society accused the government of unpreparedness in handling the crisis despite weather warnings.

At least 155 people have died in Tanzania in floods and landslides.

– very vulnerable –

East Africa is very vulnerable to climate change and rainfall in the region this year has been amplified by El Niño, a natural climate phenomenon generally associated with global warming, which causes droughts in some parts of the world and heavy rains. abundant elsewhere.

In Burundi, at least 29 people have died and 175 have been injured since the start of the rainy season in September, and other weather-related deaths have also been reported in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda.

At the end of 2023, torrential rains in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia have already caused the death of more than 300 people, in a region which was struggling to recover from the worst drought recorded in 40 years.




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