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Cyclone Idai hits Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, killing nearly 150

AP  |  Harare 

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

Cyclone Idai has affected more than 1.5 million people in the three southern African countries, according to the UN and government officials.

Hardest hit is Mozambique's central port city of where the airport is closed, is out and many homes have been destroyed.

The storm hit late Thursday and moved westward into and Malawi, affecting thousands more, particularly in eastern areas bordering

Homes, schools, businesses, hospitals and police stations have been destroyed by the cyclone. Thousands were marooned by the heavy flooding and, only caring for their lives, abandoned their possessions to seek safety on higher ground.

UN agencies and the are helping with rescue efforts that include delivering and medicines by helicopter in the impoverished southern African

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

In Zimbabwe, 31 people have died from the floods so far, according to the government. The deaths are mainly in Zimbabwe's Chimanimani, a mountainous area along the eastern border with that is popular with tourists. No tourist deaths were recorded, said

Roads and bridges were swept away, slowing rescue efforts by the military, government agencies and non-governmental organizations, he said.

The dead included two school students who were among dozens of children trapped in a dormitory after rocks fell from a nearby mountain, said Mangwana.

is trying to rescue the 197 students at the school, although unsafe conditions are forcing the soldiers to use ground efforts rather than attempt an air rescue, the government's ministry of information said later.

state television station, ZBC, reported that 150 people are missing.

"We are receiving tragic reports of some people being swept away. We urge patience as rescue is on its way," Zimbabwe's information ministry said in a tweet, although power cuts and in affected areas means the warning might reach just a few.

In Malawi, people "are now facing a second threat of floods" following the cyclone, said the International Federation of and Red Crescent Societies on

has sent in aircraft and 10 medical personnel to help in and Malawi, it said in a statement Saturday.

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

First Published: Sun, March 17 2019. 00:20 IST