Cyclone Idai Causes at Least 60 Deaths, Widespread Destruction in Mozambique

By | March 15, 2019

Tropical Cyclone Idai, which has already caused at least 60 deaths in southern Africa, lashed Mozambique’s coast Friday, knocking out electricity and phone networks in its fourth-biggest city.

Idai made landfall just after midnight after strengthening to the equivalent of a Category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale, packing wind gusts of up to 144 miles per hour, near the port city of Beira.

Before forming a tropical cyclone on March 9, the system had already dumped heavy rains over Mozambique and Malawi last week, displacing more than 100,000 people. The storm then moved back out to the southern Indian Ocean, where warm waters caused it to rapidly strengthen as it once again took aim at Mozambique’s coast.

The first incarnation of the storm last week resulted in a temporary halt to coal exports from Vale SA’s Moatize operation, Mozambique’s biggest producer, after railway lines were submerged. Operations have since resumed, the company said by email.

The tropical cyclone threatens to cause more fatalities and destruction in an area where 1.6 million people live, according to the United Nations. Flights have been canceled and people evacuated from the areas likely to be affected.

“Several experts predict that Cyclone Idai could be the strongest to make landfall in Mozambique since Tropical Cyclone Eline, which struck in February 2000,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement.

Idai is likely to head toward eastern Zimbabwe, where it may cause flooding in areas that have suffered a drought this year.


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