Cyclone ravages Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, killing at least 140

Lamar Ellis
March 17, 2019

Cyclone Idai made landfall on the night of March 14, bringing heavy rains and winds to four Mozambique provinces of Zambezia, Manica, Sofala and Inhambane.

Tropical cyclone Idai wrought havoc in eastern Zimbabwe after first battering neighbouring Mozambique - where it killed at least 19 people and left half a million people in Beira, one of the largest cities, cut off from the world. "They are part of the missing".

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 information we have so far is that over 100 people are missing and some of them" may have died, Joshua Sacco, a member of parliament in Chimanimani district, told AFP.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change demanded immediate help for the storm-hit east, warning that a "serious humanitarian crisis" was unfolding there.

A school in the most severely affected area has closed and children are waiting to be airlifted to safety. Around 100 houses had been swept away in Ngangu township in Chimanimani town, he said.

Thousands have been forced to leave behind their belongings and flee to higher ground as U.N. agencies and the Red Cross attempt to deliver food and medicine

Malawi has also been affected by the natural disaster, where 56 lives were claimed by aggressively heavy rains earlier this week. The storm hit with wind gusts of about 160 kilometres per hour, causing ocean waves of up to nine metres high.

A major cyclone the equivalent of a strong Category 2 hurricane approached the coast of Mozambique late Thursday, prompting residents to brace for what weather authorities have called a likely "worst case scenario".

"The situation is now dire and we are calling for emergency both locally and internationally", said Madiro, who is also the Zanu-PF provincial chairperson for Manicaland.

Describing it as a "difficult emergency" to tackle, he told AFP said it would require "the full force of the humanitarian community behind the government of Mozambique to respond to rapidly". "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.

South Africa's power utility company Eskom on Saturday introduced 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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