Cyclone Idai kills at least 31 as it hits eastern Zimbabwe

Cyclone Idai kills nearly 150 people in Malawi Mozambique and Zimbabwe says report

A car makes its way through the storm in Mozambique on March 15. | AFP

Worldwide relations and cooperation minister Lindiwe Sisulu has appealed to South African NGOs, companies and individuals to make donations towards humanitarian aid for the people of Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique affected by Tropical Cyclone Idai. Tens of thousands of people, primarily in impoverished rural areas, have been cut off from roads and telephones.

Cyclone Idai has affected more than 1.5 million people in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, according to the United Nations and government officials.

Most of the deaths occurred in Beira - a port hub and capital of Sofala province - a city which has virtually been cut off after power lines crashed, the airport was shut and roads swamped by flooding.

In Zimbabwe, eastern Chimanimani district was the worst hit part of the country, where houses and bridges were washed away by flash floods when the storm slammed the area.

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Another official, Pedro Armando Alberto Virgula, in Chinde north of Beira, said a hospital, police station and seven schools there lost their roofs and several houses were destroyed.

This means that the government's response has to be raised a notch higher because more people are in danger of being swept away by floods.

Soldiers on Sunday helped rescue almost 200 pupils, teachers and staff who had been trapped at the school in Chimanimani.

The most affected areas are not yet accessible, while high winds and dense clouds have hampered military rescue helicopter flights.

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa has since declared the tragedy caused by Tropical Cyclone Idai a state of disaster. Cyclone Idai is predicted to be the strongest to make landfall in Mozambique since Eline. The storm then moved west into Malawi and Zimbabwe. He says they died after a boulder rolled into their dormitory. No tourist deaths were recorded, said government spokesman Nick Mangwana. "We urge patience as rescue is on its way", Zimbabwe's information ministry said in a tweet.

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

Heavy downpours in neighbouring Malawi this week have affected nearly a million people and claimed 56 lives there, according to the latest government toll.

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