Published: Sat, March 16, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Cyclone Idai: Indian Navy diverts ships for disaster relief

Cyclone Idai: Indian Navy diverts ships for disaster relief

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

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.

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

Flooding in region affected by the storm had already killed more than 60 people.

Even before the cyclone made landfall on Friday, heavy rains earlier in the week had already claimed 66 lives and displaced 17,000 people in Mozambique, local officials said.

Images uploaded to social media showed pylons toppled, houses torn apart, billboards and rooftops blown away, trees snapped, communication towers knocked down and electricity cables lying across the streets.

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

There have been emergency relief camps opened, with President Peter Mutharika declaring a national emergency.

Beira has a population of 500,000 and sits at the mouth of the Pungwe River.

Villages along the coast of the northerly Zambezi province were cut off from the mainland by a two-meter storm surge.

"We don't have any communications from the area", said senior forecaster Jan Vermeulen.

"There has been a lot of damage".

Government emergency services had yet to give an update but the South African Weather Service (SAWS) said the cyclone was moving inland, northwest of Beira.

Many houses have been damaged and bridges washed away in parts of the Manicaland province which borders Mozambique.

State broadcaster Radio Mocambique said "preliminary information points to 19 deaths and more than 70 injured in Sofala province as a result of Cyclone Idai".

"Twenty tons of biscuits will arrive in the country shortly for immediate assistance to stranded communities, by boat and helicopter", said Michael Milton of the UN World Food Program.

The storm damaged a Mozambican transmission line to South Africa, cutting supplies by 900 MW and worsening an electricity shortage in SA.

The WMO said the storm packed winds of 103 miles per hour and there was fear that it could hit Beira at the same time as high tide, which would worsen the flooding situation there.

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