Loss in communications after Cyclone Idai lashes Mozambican port

Erika Holt
March 16, 2019

Cyclone Idai was bringing more floodwater and destruction to areas of Mozambique and Malawi where scores of people have already been killed and tens of thousands displaced by floods over the past few weeks.

"It [Idai] is on its way to Beira, it's going to make landfall tonight", South African Weather Service forecaster Jan Vermeulen told News24 on Thursday. Cyclone Eline, which hit the country in February 2000 when it was already devastated by its worst floods in three decades, killed 350 people and made 650,000 homeless across Southern Africa. "The main thing is wind damage and high waves that could go up to 10m", said Vermeulen, adding that storm surges were also a concern.

Tropical cyclone Idai battered Mozambique's coastal city of Beira leaving its 530,000 residents cut off from the outside world on Friday after power cables were downed and communications severed.

"It's an intense tropical cyclone; it will have winds of 105 knots (200km/h) when it makes landfall", said Vermeulen.

The statement quotes a Southern Africa Regional weather analysis that says a deep and wide low pressure system in the Mozambique Channel developed into a Tropical Cyclone now named IDAI on March 11, at a distance of 900kms from southern Malawi border in Nsanje at a position 17.4 south and 43.2 East approximately west-north of Madagascar, with a south-westward movement towards Beira in Mozambique.

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Mozambique is prone to extreme weather events. Rainfall of 50 mm is expected within the next 24 hours in some areas, accompanied by strong winds.

Mozambique ranks third among countries in Africa most susceptible to weather-related hazards, according to the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery.

South African disaster relief organisation Gift of the Givers said it was on high alert and waiting for a call from the Mozambican government.

A team of 15 rescuers including rescue technicians, advanced life support paramedics and lifeguards are on their way with six 4X4 vehicles, boats and jet skis to assist the community.

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