RAF

Cyclone Idai: RAF Aircraft Arrives Back In UK After Delivering Mozambique Aid

The crew members who flew the A400M Atlas aircraft to Mozambique have been speaking to reporter Amy Wiltshire.

A Royal Air Force aircraft, which delivered 20 tonnes of lifesaving UK aid supplies to those affected by the devastating cyclone that struck Mozambique Zimbabwe and Malawi, has arrived back in the UK.

The A400M Atlas aircraft and a crew of 10 RAF personnel delivered vital equipment including water filters, solar lanterns, blankets and shelter kits from the Department for International Development (DFID) for survivors of cyclone Idai in Mozambique last week.

The Government of Mozambique declared a national emergency in the aftermath of the cyclone.

Onboard the aircraft was the aid to help towards providing essential support for the 37,500 people in need of urgent shelter.

Unloading aid packages (Picture: MOD).
Unloading aid packages (Picture: MOD).

It is believed the cyclone, which damaged areas of Zimbabwe and Malawi, as well as Mozambique, killed more than 800 people, with more than 1,800 affected.

The overall cyclone death toll in Mozambique is now 518 - with 259 deaths in Zimbabwe and 56 in Malawi, bringing the three-nation death toll to more than 815.

The supplies, sent in by the UK, are in addition to a flight containing more than 7,500 shelter kits and 100 family tents which arrived in the country nearly three weeks ago.

The UK aid on board the aircraft is to help towards providing essential support for the 37,500 people in need of urgent shelter (Picture: MOD).
The UK aid on board the aircraft is to help towards providing essential support for the 37,500 people in need of urgent shelter (Picture: MOD).

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“The UK stands united with those affected by the devastation of Cyclone Idai at this incredibly difficult time.

"The RAF have successfully navigated challenging flying conditions and helped deliver vital aid to assist with the relief effort.

"Cargo on board included 500 water filters, 1,000 solar lanterns, 3,520 blankets, 600 shelter kits that will be distributed by UN agencies to those who need it most.”

The cyclone is thought to be one of the worst natural disasters in southern Africa's recent history.

The United Nations has made an emergency appeal for $282 million (£214 million) for the next three months to help Mozambique start recovering from the devastation.

The funding will be used to provide water, sanitation, education and restoring the livelihoods of the hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

RAF A400M delivering supplies to earthquake and tsunami victims in Indonesia in 2018 (Picture: MOD).
The A400M Atlas previously delivered 17.5 tonnes of UK aid relief to those affected by the earthquake and tsunami that struck Indonesia last year (Picture: MOD).

Flight Lieutenant Joel Sweeney, Flight Commander 1 Air Mobility Wing, RAF said:

"People were very pleased to see us - it was aid that was clearly wanted by the people of Mozambique so it was really good and fulfilling to be able to provide that to them."

Flight Lieutenant Andrew Linsley, 24 Squadron RAF, added:

"The further south we got the more it became apparent the flooding was fairly horrendous and certainly as we rolled in - I just remember looking and seeing an area that looked like just a swamp.

"I was told later that was actually supposed to be land and personnel on the ground were telling us it was basically an area the size of Switzerland had just disappeared overnight, and they were missing up to 100,000 people who they couldn't account for their whereabouts at the time."

So far, the UK has donated £22 million to survivors.

Ongoing support by aid workers in the country continues, as officials say the water is beginning to recede but could take years to recover.