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Cyclone cuts off Mozambique coastal city of Beira

AFP  |  Maputo 

Tropical cyclone Idai battered Mozambican coastal city Friday, leaving half a million people virtually cut off after power lines crashed, airport shut and roads were swamped by flooding that killed 66 people nationwide.

"There is no communication with Houses and trees were destroyed and pylons downed," an at the of Disaster Management (NIDM) told AFP.

Authorities had to close international airport after the air traffic control tower, the and the runways were damaged by the storm.

"Unfortunately there is extreme havoc," said the

"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 aircrafts are damaged." Late on Wednesday, the national carrier LAM cancelled all flights to Beira and Quelimane, which is also on the coast, as well as to Chomoio, which is inland.

Power utility Electricidade de Mocambique said in a statement that the provinces of Manica, Sofala and parts of Inhambane have been without power since Thursday.

Officials did not report any confirmed deaths, but local reported a child had died in province west of the city, apparently the victim of a falling roof.

"There was no tsunami-type storm but Beira and Chinde (400 kilometres, 250 miles northeast of Beira on the coast) were badly hit," added the NIDM

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

Virgula added that efforts were under way to assess the damage caused after Idai made landfall late on Thursday.

Local officials said that this week's heavy rains claimed 66 lives, injured 111 people and displaced 17,000 people.

The (WFP) said it would move 20 tonnes of emergency to the affected areas.

The (OCHA) had warned that the storm could pack winds of up to 190 kilometres per hour (118 miles per hour).

At least 126 people were killed by the downpour that has struck parts of Mozambique, and South over the past week, officials said.

Heavy rains in neighbouring have affected almost a million people and claimed 56 lives, according to the latest government toll.

Authorities there have opened emergency relief camps where malaria and shortages of supplies have led to dire conditions, according to AFP correspondents.

Malawian this week declared a natural disaster. Mozambique's weather service has warned that heavy rain will continue to batter Beira and surrounding areas until Sunday.

The UN warned of damage to crops, "including about 168,000 hectares (415,000 acres) of crops already impacted by flooding in early March, which will undermine and nutrition".

and Malawi, two of the poorest in the world, are prone to deadly flooding during the rainy season and chronic drought during the dry season.

In neighbouring Zimbabwe, have warned that violent thunderstorms, lightning and strong winds will be experienced in the eastern regions of the country.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 15 2019. 23:55 IST