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4 dead, thousands feared after Cyclone Kenneth’s landfall in Mozambique

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Cyclone Kenneth Mozambique
AP Photo/Anziza M'Changama

Four people are dead in northern Mozambique after Cyclone Kenneth made a historic landfall late on Thursday, and flooding rain will put more lives and property in peril in the coming days.

Kenneth is the first tropical cyclone with the equivalent of hurricane strength to strike Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado since modern record-keeping began 60 years ago.

According to the U.N., the strike by Kenneth marked the first time in recorded history that Mozambique has been hit by two powerful cyclones in the same season. Last month, the central part of the country was slammed by Cyclone Idai, which resulted in hundreds of fatalities.

The dangerous cyclone made landfall in Cabo Delgado, about 100 km (62 miles) north of Pemba, at the end of the day on Thursday, local time. Kenneth had 10-minute maximum sustained winds of 200 km/h (124 mph), the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic or eastern Pacific oceans, as it moved onshore.

Meteo France estimates a life-threatening storm surge of 3-5 meters (10-16 feet) occurred along the coast, just south of landfall. The NOAA-20 satellite’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) captured an ominous nighttime image of Kenneth making its way inland over Mozambique and then Tanzania.

Red Cross teams in northern Mozambique are reporting serious damage in towns and communities that endured were struck by Kenneth on Thursday night.

One woman was killed by a falling tree in Pemba, according to The Associated Press. Two other people were killed on Ibo Island. The death toll rose to four with the report of a fatality in Macomia district.

Prior to reaching Mozambique, Kenneth killed three people in the island nation of Comoros on Wednesday night.

About 90 per cent of homes, which were mostly made of mud, may have been destroyed in the main village on Ibo Island, Mozambique. Ibo is located near where Kenneth barreled onshore.

Electricity was cut on Ibo Island, where many residents also lost cellphone service when the cyclone downed a tower.

There are also reports of “extensive damage” to homes in Quissanga, according to the AP. Four ships sank offshore of Palma, but everyone survived.

Significant power outages plagued Pemba, where winds gusted to 70 km/h (44 mph) before weather-recording instruments stopped reporting.

As rescuers are attempting to reach remote villages, there are fears that thousands of people may be trapped, according to BBC News.

Nearly 700,000 may have been impacted by the cyclone, the AP reported the country’s disaster management agency said, with many left exposed and hungry amid rising flood waters.

However, the agency commended advance notice of Kenneth in preventing an even more dire situation.

While its strong winds have dramatically weakened, Kenneth will crawl through northeastern Mozambique this weekend and continue to unleash downpours.

More lives and property are at risk as the heavy rain can trigger new or exacerbate ongoing flooding problems.

“A flooding disaster can unfold in Cabo Delgado where Kenneth slammed onshore,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski. “Additional downpours into this weekend can push the AccuWeather Local StormMax™ to 600 mm (24 inches).”

The heavy rain can cause streams, rivers and coastal waterways to flood neighbouring land and communities.

“This is a life-threatening situation as the hardest-hit areas can be put underwater,” Pydynowski warned. “Those needing to be rescued may only be able to be reached by boat or helicopters.”

Flooding downpours from Kenneth can also stream into eastern parts of the Mozambique province of Nampula, as well as graze neighbouring southern Tanzania.

Muidumbe, Mucojo, Nacaroa, Montepuez, Pemba and Nacala are among the communities facing flooding. All evacuation orders should be followed.

Mudslides can be triggered and endanger those living on hillsides.

“A few thunderstorms can also rumble around Kenneth’s centre, which can further hinder rescue, recovery and storm cleanup efforts,” Pydynowski said.

Prior to Kenneth striking Mozambique, Reuters reports that around 30,000 people were evacuated to safer buildings such as schools.

“Aside from storm damage, the greatest risk will immediately be from flooding due to heavy rains. Rivers within this region of Mozambique may flood, especially as at least one of the dams is already close to full capacity, preventing flood water from being retained.

This will make it almost impossible to distribute aid as roads will become impassable,” said Marc Nosbach, CARE Mozambique’s country director.

The areas being affected by Kenneth were largely spared from any of former Tropical Cyclone Idai’s destruction in March.

Many locations in central Mozambique, including Beira, suffered catastrophic damage. Residents are still trying to rebuild and recover from Tropical Cyclone Idai more than a month after the storm’s landfall.

Kenneth first brought heavy rainfall to parts of Madagascar from Monday into Wednesday.

Locations from Ambanja and Antisiranana to Andapa and Antalaha had drenching downpours and localized flooding. Rainfall totals of 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) were common with 300 mm (12 inches) reported in Sambava.

The cyclone then lashed the island nation of Comoros, killing three people. Several other people sustained injuries, according to Reuters.

Winds gusted to 120 km/h (75 mph) at the Hahaya International Airport on Wednesday night. Rainfall totalled 225 mm (8.86 inches).

Streets across the island were littered with downed trees and debris from homes. The roofs of some homes were also ripped off. Widespread power outages occurred in the capital of Moroni.

About 1,000 homes sustained flooding and key crops were destroyed. Accuweather

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Chris Cash: The UK Parliamentary Researcher Accused of Spying for Beijing Authorities

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In March of this year, a British parliamentary researcher was arrested on suspicion of being a Chinese spy. The researcher, Chris Cash, was revealed to be a 28-year-old history graduate with links to many Tory MPs. He had been seen associating with senior Tories such as security minister Tom Tugendhat and Foreign Affairs Committee chair Alicia Kearns. Cash was believed to have been recruited as a sleeper agent while living and working in China and sent back to the UK to infiltrate political networks critical of the Beijing regime.

Cash was the leader of the China Research Group, a body advocating for a more hawkish British policy towards China. Co-founded by Tory ministers Tom Tugendhat and Neil O’Brien in April 2020, the group focused on industrial, technological, and foreign policy issues. The group’s website claimed that it aimed to provide informed knowledge on China and promote debate and fresh thinking about how Britain should respond to the rise of China.

Chris Cash was arrested in Edinburgh and released on bail until early October, along with another suspect. It is unclear how much access Cash had to foreign affairs intelligence or what kind of influence he may have held in Westminster. While he held a parliamentary pass, he did not have security clearance.

China has denied all accusations of involvement in an espionage scheme involving Cash, calling them malicious slander.

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Pope Sends Prayers to Comfort Morocco Earthquake Victims as Death Toll Surpasses 2,000

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On Sunday, Pope Francis expressed his prayers and support for the victims of the powerful earthquake that hit Morocco, resulting in the highest number of fatalities in over 60 years. During his Angelus message, he prayed for those injured and those who lost their lives, along with their families.

The Pope also expressed his gratitude towards the rescue workers who are working tirelessly to help the victims. He concluded by saying that they stand in solidarity with the people of Morocco during this difficult time.

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African Union’s Inclusion in G20: A Significant Acknowledgment of a Continent with 1 Billion Inhabitants

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The world’s most powerful economies, the G20, have welcomed the African Union (AU) as a permanent member, recognising Africa’s more than 50 countries as important players on the global stage. US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi both expressed support for the AU’s permanent membership.

The AU has advocated for full membership for seven years and, until now, South Africa was the only African country in the G20. The AU represents a continent with a young population of 1.3 billion, which is set to double by 2050 and make up a quarter of the world’s population.

Africa’s 55 member states have long pushed for meaningful roles in global bodies, including the United Nations Security Council, and want reforms to the global financial system. The continent is increasingly attracting investment and political interest from global powers like China, Russia, Gulf nations, Turkey, Israel, and Iran. African leaders are challenging the framing of the continent as passive victim and want to be brokers instead.

They seek fairer treatment by financial institutions, delivery of rich countries’ long-promised $100 billion a year in climate financing for developing nations, and a global tax on fossil fuels. The AU’s full G20 membership will enable it to represent a continent that’s home to the world’s largest free trade area and abundant resources needed to combat climate change. The African continent has 60% of the world’s renewable energy assets and over 30% of the minerals key to renewable and low-carbon technologies.

African leaders want more industrial development closer to home to benefit their economies. Finding a common position among the AU’s member states, from economic powers to some of the world’s poorest nations, can be challenging, but Africa will need to speak with one voice to influence G20 decision-making. African leaders have shown their willingness to take collective action, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a high-profile G20 member, Africa’s demands will be harder to ignore.

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