Cyclone batters Mozambique coastal city

Leroy Wright
March 16, 2019

More than a million people have already been directly affected by the disaster.

A powerful tropical storm made landfall in Mozambique on Thursday evening, battering a coastal city with heavy rain and wind at speeds of up to up 170km/h and injuring several people.

"Cyclone Idai made landfall at about midnight and is now lying north west off Beira", said Jan Vermeulen, senior forecaster at the SA Weather Service.

A tropical cyclone is a low-pressure weather phenomenon that forms over oceans when the water temperature is at least 26 degrees Celsius.

"There's some cloud and light rain; we're not expecting anything heavy".

Before the storm formed over the Mozambique Channel this week, it was a disturbance that settled over the region and unleashed torrential rains the flooded much of the two neighboring countries. With the current population of Beira believed to be 250,000 and gusts of winds estimated to be over 250km/hour, Cyclone Idai is expected to be the largest the area has seen in a decade.

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The Mozambican government's emergency services have yet to give an update on the situation.

Cyclones are typical for Mozambique at this time of year, but there are concerns that the weather patterns have been increasing in intensity.

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 officials are working with their counterparts in Mozambique through the National Joint Operations Centre to share information on the storm and its likely impact.

News24 reported that Tropical Storm Dineo with winds in excess of 166km/h hit Mozambique in February 2018.

"Our intervention includes 70 personnel (aquatic rescue, rescue technicians, rescue divers, advance life support paramedics and doctors), 22 vehicles (4×4), 10 power boats, 4 jet skis, 14 inflatable, non-motorised two-man rescue boats, a range of rescue equipment and access to an eight-seater plane", the organisation's founder Imtiaz Sooliman said in a brief statement.

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