At Least 24 Dead, Dozens Missing In Zimbabwe After Cyclone

At Least 24 Dead, Dozens Missing In Zimbabwe After Cyclone

Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi have been hit by a vicious cyclone that has killed almost 150 people, left hundreds more missing and stranded tens of thousands who are cut off from roads and telephones in mainly poor, rural areas.

"The information we have so far is that over 100 people are missing", said Joshua Sacco, an MP in Chimanimani district. A ministry tweet said at least 40 other people were still missing.

Among the casualties were two pupils and a security officer from St Charles Lwanga High School, and 10 victims from Ngangu Township in Chimanimani, which was the most affected. There were people inside.

"We need state intervention on a massive scale to avoid biblical disaster", MDC spokesman Jacob Mafume wrote on Twitter.

Tens of thousands of people, primarily in impoverished rural areas, have been cut off from roads and telephones.

"The Tropical Cyclone is creating a convergence of air from north-east and air from south-west over the country causing locally heavy rainfall activities over the south and northern areas but isolated rains over central areas of the country due to the sinking air from the Tropical Cyclone, as it weakens but makes its way towards Zimbabwe" says Nkhokwe as quoted in the Nation Newspaper.

Most of the deaths were in Chimanimani East, Zimbabwe's information ministry announced on Twitter.

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A school in the most severely affected area has closed and children are waiting to be airlifted to safety.

A major cyclone the equivalent of a strong Category 2 hurricane approached the coast of Mozambique late Thursday, prompting residents to brace for what weather authorities have called a likely "worst case scenario".

Describing it as a "difficult emergency" to tackle, he told AFP said it would require "the full force of the humanitarian community behind the government of Mozambique to respond to rapidly".

Authorities were forced to close Beira global airport 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", an official at the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) told AFP on Friday.

Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi said the damage is "very worrisome" and said the flooding made it hard for aircraft to land and carry out rescue operations, according to Mozambique's state radio.

The storm damaged a Mozambican transmission line to South Africa, cutting supplies by 900 MW and worsening an electricity shortage in SA.

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