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Another Cyclone Devastates Mozambique

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

A second powerful cyclone has hit Mozambique just six weeks after a storm killed hundreds of people and displaced hundreds of thousands. No one can recall a time before that the country has been hit by two storms this intense in one season. This latest storm has killed at least five people and damaged thousands of homes. And the United Nations says there could be more massive flooding.

It's hard to imagine the scale of something like this unless you're there, so we've called Tommy Trenchard. He's a freelance photojournalist. And he's in the district in northern Mozambique that's near there where the center of the storm hit. And he's with us now. Tommy, welcome. Thanks so much for talking to us.

TOMMY TRENCHARD: Not at all. Thank you.

MARTIN: So I understand that you've been in and around the center of where Cyclone Kenneth hit this week. Just tell us a bit of what you've seen.

TRENCHARD: Well, yesterday, I was in a town called Mocuba (ph), which was right in the middle of the path of the storm, Cyclone Kenneth. And in that town and surrounding villages, the level of destruction is really quite intense. Houses have been completely obliterated by the wind and by falling trees. And people are reeling and trying to pick up the pieces in the two days since the storm made landfall.

MARTIN: Where are people staying? Like, how are they - how are they living at the moment?

TRENCHARD: Well, I think everyone is making the best of their situation. Some are staying with relatives if that's a possibility. But I met several people today who said they were sleeping rough. One woman had created a shelter out of palm leaves on the ground for herself just to keep off the worst of the rain. Others are sleeping in homes that have no roofs.

MARTIN: Had people there, where you are - I take it they've not experienced something like this before.

TRENCHARD: No. In this part of Mozambique, it's a complete anomaly. It's unheard of. This close to the equator such a powerful storm, it's not something anybody was expecting.

MARTIN: And I understand that you were just in Beira, which was covering the cyclone that you mentioned there. And how is a second major storm going to affect the ability of government and aid organizations to respond? I mean, just give us a sense of what they're currently - what they've been dealing with already and how they might adapt to this latest storm.

TRENCHARD: Well, it's a massive humanitarian operation unfolding in central Mozambique where I hit last month. There are dozens of agencies trying to reach the lost communities that still haven't received aid. And by some estimates, there are still over a hundred thousand people who have not yet received any assistance. The logistics of reaching these remote communities is extremely complicated, especially given that a lot of the roads have been washed out or partially blocked, causing bottlenecks. And yes, it's not an easy business getting the bare necessities to these communities.

MARTIN: So, finally, as I mentioned, you're a photojournalist. Could you just give us a sense of one or two of the images that have that have really stayed with you as you've covered these two major storms?

TRENCHARD: Really, I think - today, as a photojournalist, what's striking is just the utter scale of the devastation with palm trees and bits of roofs and splinters of timber. The place just looks like total carnage. And I think that's what I've been trying to capture in my photographs today.

MARTIN: That's Tommy Trenchard. He's a freelance photojournalist. We spoke to him from Pemba, which is in northern Mozambique. Tommy Trenchard, thanks so much for talking with us and sharing your observations with us.

TRENCHARD: Not at all. Thanks for having me on the show. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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