May 1, 2019 / 10:38 AM / 24 days ago

"The food is going": Teachers stranded in cyclone-hit Mozambique

PEMBA, Mozambique, May 1 (Reuters) - Headmaster Ernesto Parivos waits in his teacher training college in north Mozambique, watching for any signs that flood waters have eased as food supplies dwindle.

Cyclone Kenneth barrelled into the province of Cabo Delgado last week, knocking out power at the School for Teachers of the Future, damaging 11 college buildings and cutting roads linking to the main city of Pemba.

Like thousands of people across the region, Parivos and around 80 live-in students and staff are now stranded at the site in the district of Quissanga. “Life now is kind of difficult,” he told Reuters by mobile phone. “At the end of the week, maybe the food is going ... finished.”

Almost a week after Kenneth struck with storm surges and 280 kph (174 mph) winds, aid workers say many remote areas and small islands are still waiting for supplies.

The storm and heavy rains that followed cut communications and grounded aid planes and helicopters. One flight from the U.N. World Food Programme got through to Quissanga on Tuesday, though downpours stopped any more, the agency said. On Wednesday, it flew its first consignment - including high-energy biscuits and medical supplies from other organisations - to the island of Ibo, where 90 percent of the homes were destroyed.

The government says 41 people have died in Mozambique - though that toll is expected to rise as aid agencies reach more areas.

The rain had stopped on Wednesday, but more is forecast, threatening to burst already swollen rivers. Analysis commissioned by Britain’s Department for International Development estimates many rivers could reach flood levels on Wednesday or Thursday.

Kenneth struck while Mozambique was still struggling to deal with the impact of Cyclone Idai, which hammered the country’s central region just six weeks earlier. Idai destroyed the port city of Beira and caused devastating floods. It killed more 1,000 people across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

At the college, Parivos says staff have been tidying up, hoping they have seen the last of the floodwaters. On Thursday, they are planning to restart classes, as they try to organise more supplies and hope the roads clear.

“We try to start a new life,” said Parivos.

Reporting by Shafiek Tassiem in Pemba and Emma Rumney in Johannesburg; Writing by Emma Rumney; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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