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Mozambicans look to God as cyclone deaths rise

Updated : 2019-03-25 14:34:08

Worshippers gathered at battered churches in the Mozambican port of Beira on Sunday, praying for divine protection as the death toll crept up from a cyclone and floods around southern Africa.

"We asked Jesus to protect us so that this does not happen again," said congregant and survivor Maria Domingas, 60, who saw trees crashing into her house and water filling her bedroom.

Cyclone Idai hit Beira, on the Indian Ocean, with winds up to 170 kph (105 mph), before barrelling inland to Zimbabwe and Malawi, flattening homes and killing at least 656 people.

Mozambique's death toll rose to 446 from 417, a government minister said on Sunday. In Zimbabwe, U.N. agencies have given different tolls of 259 and 154, while in Malawi 56 people died in heavy rains ahead of Idai.

At the Universal Church in Beira, evangelical Christians gathered in the patio due to heavy damage from the cyclone. The sheet metal roof had caved in, cables draped across wooden chairs, and the floor was a mess of broken rubble.

The congregation stretched arms skywards and swayed in prayer. "You can see the strength in their eyes," said the 36-year-old pastor, known as Junior. "From today, we are looking forward."

As he led the service with some 150 people, a piece of partly detached roof rattled in the wind.

"Only with God can we move forward," said Rosa Manuel, 59, who lost a house she had built to rent.

Congregants pray outside during a service after their church was destroyed by Cyclone Idai, in Beira, Mozambique, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Congregants pray outside during a service after their church was destroyed by Cyclone Idai, in Beira, Mozambique, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Locals leave after receiving food parcels handed out by an aid organisation after Cyclone Idai, near Dondo village outside Beira, Mozambique, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Locals leave after receiving food parcels handed out by an aid organisation after Cyclone Idai, near Dondo village outside Beira, Mozambique, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Locals wait to receive food parcels handed out by an aid organisation to locals after Cyclone Idai, near Dondo village outside Beira, Mozambique, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Locals wait to receive food parcels handed out by an aid organisation to locals after Cyclone Idai, near Dondo village outside Beira, Mozambique, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
A woman walks past a damaged building as waters begin to recede in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, in Buzi near Beira, Mozambique, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
A woman walks past a damaged building as waters begin to recede in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, in Buzi near Beira, Mozambique, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Flooded buildings are seen as waters begin to recede in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, in Buzi near Beira, Mozambique, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Flooded buildings are seen as waters begin to recede in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, in Buzi near Beira, Mozambique, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Trucks are seen near damaged buildings in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, in Beira, Mozambique, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Trucks are seen near damaged buildings in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, in Beira, Mozambique, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
A man walks through flooded land as waters begin to recede in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, in Buzi near Beira, Mozambique, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
A man walks through flooded land as waters begin to recede in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, in Buzi near Beira, Mozambique, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
People wait to collect food parcels handed out by an aid organisation to locals after Cyclone Idai, near Dondo village outside Beira, Mozambique, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
People wait to collect food parcels handed out by an aid organisation to locals after Cyclone Idai, near Dondo village outside Beira, Mozambique, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
A woman walks past debris caused by Cyclone Idai near a damaged bridge in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo
A woman walks past debris caused by Cyclone Idai near a damaged bridge in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo
An aerial view of the Umvumvu river after cyclone Idai hit Chimanimani, Zimbabwe, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo
An aerial view of the Umvumvu river after cyclone Idai hit Chimanimani, Zimbabwe, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo
A child walks past debris as flood waters begin to recede in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, in Buzi near Beira, Mozambique March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
A child walks past debris as flood waters begin to recede in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, in Buzi near Beira, Mozambique March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Congregants pray outside during a service after their church was destroyed by Cyclone Idai, in Beira, Mozambique, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Congregants pray outside during a service after their church was destroyed by Cyclone Idai, in Beira, Mozambique, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Congregants pray outside during a service after their church was destroyed by Cyclone Idai, in Beira, Mozambique, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Congregants pray outside during a service after their church was destroyed by Cyclone Idai, in Beira, Mozambique, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
A combination photo of satellite images shows Beira city before the cyclone (top) and after the devastation, Mozambique March 22, 2019 in this still image obtained by Reuters on March 23, 2019. Satellite image ©2019 DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company/via REUTERS
A combination photo of satellite images shows Beira city before the cyclone (top) and after the devastation, Mozambique March 22, 2019 in this still image obtained by Reuters on March 23, 2019. Satellite image ©2019 DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company/via REUTERS
A man sells eggs after Cyclone Idai at Praia Nova, in Beira, Mozambique, March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
A man sells eggs after Cyclone Idai at Praia Nova, in Beira, Mozambique, March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
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