Kenya and Tanzania: Already hit by floods, a cyclone risks worsening the chaos

Torrential rains and violent winds hit the coastal regions of Kenya and Tanzania on Saturday, the first effects of a cyclone which risks worsening the chaos in these two East African countries already hit by deadly floods.

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.

The Kenyan meteorological department said in a bulletin on Saturday that the effects of tropical cyclone Hidaya are 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 made landfall on the Tanzanian coast. But there is another depression developing behind it,” he added. Tanzanian authorities did not immediately confirm.

In its latest bulletin on Saturday, the Tanzania Meteorological Authority noted strong winds and heavy rainfall along the coasts overnight.

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 living 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, regional climate center ICPAC said Friday.

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

“No corner spared”

Kenyan President William Ruto on Friday deemed 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.

According to William Ruto, the cyclone “is expected to cause torrential rains, strong winds and powerful and dangerous waves”.


AFP

In Kenya since March, at least 210 people have died and nearly 100 others are missing while 165,000 people have been displaced, according to government figures.

“No corner of our country has been spared from this devastation,” summarized the president. “Unfortunately, we have not seen the end of this dangerous period,” he added.

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.

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.

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.


Kenya and Tanzania: Already hit by floods, a cyclone risks worsening the chaos

AFP

In Burundi, at least 29 people have died and 175 have been injured since the start of the rainy season in September, the UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it was “particularly concerned” about the fate of thousands of refugees displaced in Burundi, Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania.

“(They) are forced to flee once again for their lives after their homes were swept away by water,” UNHCR spokesperson Olga Sarrado Mur said on Friday.

By the end of 2023, torrential rains in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia had already caused the deaths of more than 300 people, in a region that was struggling to recover from the worst drought recorded in 40 years.

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