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story.lead_photo.caption A woman in Pemba, Mozambique, creates a drainage system near her shop Sunday to clear away floodwaters caused by heavy rains.

PEMBA, Mozambique -- Disaster unfolded on Sunday in northern Mozambique in the wake of Cyclone Kenneth as raging floodwaters killed one person and began to cut off the region's main city from the outside world.

Some 160,000 people were at risk, with more torrential rain forecast for the days ahead.

"Help us, we are losing everything!" residents in Pemba city shouted at passing cars as the rushing waters poured into doorways. Women and girls with buckets and pots tried to scoop away the torrent, in vain. Some houses collapsed, the United Nations said.

"It's an awful sense of deja vu," said Nicholas Finney, response team leader with the aid group Save the Children. Kenneth arrived just six weeks after Cyclone Idai ripped into central Mozambique and killed more than 600 people with flooding.

Up to 4 inches of rain was forecast for some parts of the region over the 24 hours ending today, according to Mozambique's meteorological institute.

"I have never seen such rains in my life," said one Pemba resident, 35-year-old Michael Fernando.

Residents mourned one death in the Nitate neighborhood after a brick wall fell on a woman and the waters swept her against another building, said community leader Estenacio Pilale.

Other residents tried to pile up tires and sand-filled sacks as barricades. Cars began to slip under the waters.

"We will keep moving until we get somewhere safe," one man said, as people fled carrying belongings in plastic bags.

Others showed flashes of impatience. "Will this water ever give us a break?" Abdul Carimo asked. "The moment we try to do anything with our lives, it starts again."

Authorities earlier said at least five people died after Kenneth roared in Thursday evening with the force of a Category 4 hurricane, stunning residents of a region where such a storm had not been recorded in the modern era.

The government said many of the 160,000 people affected in the largely rural region are now exposed and hungry. More than 35,000 homes in parts of Mozambique's northernmost Cabo Delgado were damaged or destroyed by the storm. More than 23,000 people were in shelters, the government said.

Aid workers trying to reach hard-hit communities outside Pemba on Sunday were forced to turn back by rivers that burst their banks, with floodwaters reaching the roofs of nearby houses. It was not clear when aid to scores of thousands of people outside the city could be delivered.

"Helicopters cannot fly, a number of flights were canceled, so humanitarian workers cannot arrive and additional cargo cannot arrive by air," Finney with Save the Children told The Associated Press. He was concerned that the main road to Nampula, an important trucking route, would soon be blocked.

He described "total devastation" affecting a 37-mile stretch of coastline and nearby islands.

Information for this article was contributed by Cara Anna of The Associated Press.

Photo by AP/TSVANGIRAYI MUKWAZHI
A child in Pemba, Mozambique, drinks water from a gutter Sunday as the nation continues to feel the effects of Cyclone Kenneth. The storm, the second to hit the country in six weeks, caused major flooding in northern Mozambique, killing a woman and putting 160,000 people at risk.

A Section on 04/29/2019

Print Headline: 160,000 Mozambicans in peril

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