Thursday, 23 May, 2019

Cyclone Idai hits Zimbabwe, at least 24 people dead

After tropical cyclone Idai hit Mozambique on Friday heavy downpours have caused deaths in neighbouring Zimbabwe and Malawi. AFP  File  AMOS GUMULIRA 'Dozens of casualties' as Cyclone Idai hits Mozambique
Steven Clarke | 16 March, 2019, 22:29

Nearly 100,000 people had been forced to leave their homes across Mozambique and Malawi, where humanitarian operations are already underway.

"Some runway lights were damaged, the navigation system is damaged, the control tower antennas and the control tower itself are all damaged", an official at the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) told AFP on Friday.

Authorities were forced to close Beira worldwide airport after the air traffic control tower, the navigation systems and the runways were damaged by the storm. The airport was shut down after suffering damage to its control tower and runways.

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

After making landfall late Thursday, Idai felled pylons, destroyed houses and blew the roofs off seven schools. The cyclone is expected to also affect Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central and Masvingo provinces, with the later having already witnessed the effects of the deadly storm after Mutimurefu Prison's four cells had roofs blown away this morning.

The power and communication outages left Beira's roughly 530,000 residents cut off.

"Because of the cyclone, the (theatre) no longer has conditions for patients to be operated on", Cebola said to Radio Moçambique.

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Authorities in Mozambique said heavy rains before the cyclone struck had already claimed the lives of 66 people, and displaced a further 17,000.

Michael Milton of the U.N. World Food Programme said: "Twenty tons of biscuits will arrive in the country shortly for immediate assistance to stranded communities, by boat and helicopter". The storm hit with wind gusts of about 160 kilometres per hour, causing ocean waves of up to nine metres high.

Recent flooding has already wreaked havoc across Mozambique, Malawi and South Africa with more than one million people affected.

Malawi has also been affected by the natural disaster, where 56 lives were claimed by aggressively heavy rains earlier this week.

There have been emergency relief camps opened, with President Peter Mutharika declaring a national emergency. In Mozambique, Malawi and South Africa, flooding has killed 126.

In neighbouring Zimbabwe, weather services have warned that violent thunderstorms, lightning and strong winds will be experienced in the eastern regions of the country.

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