Maputo — Mozambican President Filip Nyusi has cut short a three day state visit to Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) because of the dramatic situation in the central provinces caused by cyclone Idai.
Nyusi went to Eswatini on Friday, and witnessed the signing of cooperation agreements on automobile insurance and on search and rescue operations, signed by the transport ministers of the two countries.
But on Saturday, he returned to Mozambique to follow the trail of devastation left by the cyclone. On Sunday he is scheduled to visit the city of Beira, which suffered severe damage. He will then visit towns and districts in Sofala, Manica, Zambezia and Tete provinces, where he will interact with victims of the cyclone.
The initial estimate of the death toll from Idai in Sofala, as given by Radio Mozambique, was 19, with a further 70 people injured. 13 of these deaths occurred in Beira, and six in the town of Dondo.
Sofala provincial governor Alberto Mondlane told the radio that the deaths were caused by drowning, by falling trees, and by injuries caused when people were hit by zinc sheeting blown off roofs by the winds.
The radio reported a further two deaths in Manica caused by the collapse of houses.
An update on the casualties published in the Sunday paper "Domingo" puts the Sofala death toll at 48, and says that over 400 people injured in the cyclone have been treated in Beira Central Hospital.
The hospital itself is a casualty, with severe damage to the operating theatre, and several of the wards.
Transport and communications in the central provinces have been severely disrupted. Mobile phone networks were not operating, and no flights were taking off or landing at the provincial capitals.
Fallen trees were a major hazard for motorists, and the main highway from Beira to Zimbabwe was interrupted at Mount Xiluvo in Manica.
In Zambezia, the cyclone cut off access to the districts of Luabo and Chinde, as well as to the Chiure administrative post in Morrumbala district. This is in addition to damage done by storms earlier in the month, which had isolated Pebane and Mocubela districts, and caused major damage to many roads in the province. In all, 1,375 kilometres of roads in Zambezia were impassable because of the rains.
Idai cut off electricity in Beira, and as a result the city's water supply, dependent on electric pumps, also stopped working. In Manica, the cyclone brought down 53 pylons on the transmission line to the town of Espungabera, on the Zimbabwean border, thus depriving Mossurize district of power.