Mozambique: Worst Cyclone in Decade Hit Beira Friday; No Electricity, Phones, Food; Main Road Cut

Cyclone Idai, billed as the worst in a decade, hit Beira Friday morning with 200 km winds, high waves and heavy rain. The airport was badly hit with building, planes and landing aids seriously damaged, but daytime flights landed today (Sunday). (See picture in attached pdf) Otherwise communication is largely cut off and information remains sparse. O Pais estimates 55 dead in Beira and 13 in Dondo, with at least 1500 injured. Trees and electricity and telephone poles are down and many buildings damaged, with roofs blown off. More flimsy buildings in the suburbs have been destroyed. All businesses remain closed.

Beira hospital severe damage to the operating theatre, and several of the wards, but has treated 400 injured people.

The main N6 road, which provides the only normal access from the west and Maputo, is cut off by flooding and a washout at Lamego (see picture in attached pdf).

Electricidade de Mocambique has restored electricity from the Mavuzi and Chicamba dams in Manica along the N6 as far as Dondo, but cannot restore power to Beira because the main substation at Munhava is under water.

The cyclone drove up the N6 causing damage and flooding in Mancia province and Manicaland in Zimbabwe, with an estimated 31 deaths in Zimbabwe. Reports remain very limited but a report on social media said 70 people were stranded on a roof of a building in Gruja, Buzi district. Luabo and Chinde at the mouth of the Zambeze River remain cut off.

Thus in its erratic track, the storm has killed at least 209 people.

A storm with a long history . This has been a very unusual cyclone. A tropical depression formed in the Mozambique Channel on 4 March and moved over Zambezia and then Malawi. Very heavy rain on 6 and 7 March caused major flooding in Tete and Zambezia, as well as Malawi. Many roads were flooded and closed. At least 45 people died in Malawi in the first phase of the storm, according to the EU-funded Floodlist, and 66 in Mozambique according to Ana Comoana, spokesperson for the Council of Ministers, on 12 March.

Then over Malawi the storm made a u-turn and moved back eastwards and into the Mozambique Channel. On 9 March it was upgraded to a tropical cyclone. It intensified rapidly and was named Idai and by 13 March began again moving west toward Beira.

The national meteorological officer predicts heavy rain in the affected zone over the next three days. And many roads flooded by the first part of the storm remain closed.

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