Cyclone Idai batters Zimbabwe, at least 24 people dead

'Dozens of casualties' as Cyclone Idai hits Mozambique

At least 43 people died in central Mozambique and Zimbabwe after a tropical cyclone tore through the southern African nations, knocking out electricity and phone networks and cutting power to South Africa from a hydropower dam.

Parts of Mozambique were cut off on Friday as a tropical storm battered the coast and the major port city of Beira with heavy rain and winds of up to up 170kph.

Power has been cut off and key bridges flooded on 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".

The cyclone hit Mozambique with winds of up to 177km/h (106 mph).

Luis Fonseca, a journalist at Lusa News Agency told Al Jazeera that the cyclone is expected to dissipate on Saturday in Mozambique, but it will continue to create trouble.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change demanded immediate help for the storm-hit east, warning that a "serious humanitarian crisis" was unfolding there.

Malawi has also been affected by the natural disaster, where 56 lives were claimed by aggressively heavy rains earlier this week.

They had also affected neighbouring Malawi, where 56 people died and almost a million others were affected, the government said.


"The information we have so far is that over 100 people are missing and some of them" may have died, Joshua Sacco, a member of parliament in Chimanimani district, told AFP.

"At least 25 houses were swept away following a mudslide at Ngangu township in Chimanimani urban".

While Idai was not as intense as comparable storms that ravaged the region in 2008 and 2000, a rapid rise in the amount of people living in the area means that "damages may be worse", said Jennifer Fitchett, a senior lecturer in physical geography at University of the Witwatersrand.

The boarding school has been shut with the students waiting to be airlifted to safety by the army, which is leading rescue operations.

South Africa's power utility company Eskom on Saturday introduced electricity rationing "due to the loss of additional capacity, which includes a reduction in imports from Mozambique", it said in a statement.

When the cyclone hit Mozambique, authorities there were forced to close the worldwide airport in the port city of Beira after the air traffic control tower, the navigation systems and the runways were damaged by the storm.

"Some runway lights were damaged, the navigation system is damaged, the control tower antennas and the control tower itself are all damaged".

"The runway is full of obstacles and parked aircraft are damaged".

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