Cyclone Idai leaves trail of destruction in Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, killing 140

Evarado Alatorre
Marcha 17, 2019

At least 24 people have been killed and dozens are missing in parts of eastern Zimbabwe hit by the peripheral effects of tropical cyclone Idai which lashed neighbouring Mozambique, government said Saturday.

Air force helicopters were rescuing people, but flights were being slowed by the heavy winds, media reports said.

Earlier a lawmaker told AFP that thousands of people have been affected, power cut off and major bridges flooded.

"At least 25 houses were swept away following a mudslide at Ngangu township in Chimanimani urban".

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Jacob Mafume tweeted that a "serious humanitarian crisis (is) unfolding" in eastern Zimbabwe districts.

While Idai was not as intense as comparable storms that ravaged the region in 2008 and 2000, a rapid rise in the amount of people living in the area means that "damages may be worse", said Jennifer Fitchett, a senior lecturer in physical geography at University of the Witwatersrand.

As many as 100 people are reportedly missing in Zimbabwe following a cyclone that has killed at least 24 people.

Local officials said that this week's heavy rains had already claimed 66 lives, injured 111 people and displaced 17,000 people. "We need state intervention on a massive scale to avoid biblical disaster", he said.

The storm hit with wind gusts of about 160 kilometres per hour, causing ocean waves of up to nine metres high.

Destruction in Mozambique
Cyclone Idai leaves trail of destruction in Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, killing 140

Heavy rains in neighbouring Malawi have affected nearly a million people and claimed 56 lives, according to the latest government toll.

As the cyclone approached, the Red Cross sent out more than 200 volunteers to areas most likely to be affected.

The Ministry of Information said the Zimbabwean national army was leading rescue efforts to airlift students from a damaged school and others trapped by the storm.

"The situation is dire but we don't know the exact particulars", said Jamie LeSueur, the Red Cross's roving emergency operations manager for Africa.

Hundreds were left stranded at Mozambique's Maputo International Airport when the country's national airline carrier LAM canceled all of its lights to Beira and Quelimane on Wednesday. "Houses and trees were destroyed and pylons downed", an official at the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) told AFP.

Hardest hit is Mozambique's central port city of Beira where the airport is closed, electricity is out and many homes have been destroyed.

"The runway is full of obstacles and parked aircrafts are damaged".

South Africa's power utility company Eskom on Saturday introduced severe electricity rationing "due to the loss of additional capacity, which includes a reduction in imports from Mozambique", it said in a statement.

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