Cyclone Idai: Zimbabwe school hit by landslide

Mozambique cyclone kills dozens, cuts power to SA

More than 1,500 people have been injured by falling trees and debris from buildings including zinc roofing, the BBC's Jose Tembe in the capital, Maputo, quotes officials as saying.

Ninety percent of the city of some 530,000 people and its surrounding area has been "damaged or destroyed", it said in a statement.

Joshua Sacco, a member of parliament in Zimbabwe, told local media that officials did not have an accurate count of the missing, indicating that death toll reports could increase. The main labour movement, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions said the disaster was avoidable.

At least 126 people were killed in Mozambique and Malawi, according to the Red Cross, and Zimbabwe's information ministry on Monday put the number of dead at 89 in the country.

"Hundreds of thousands of children have already seen their lives turned upside down by the devastating floods, and now Cyclone Idai has brought further suffering to families in its path", said UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Leila Pakkala.

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"Communities are isolated and bodies are floating" on the waters, he said. Sofala Province governor Alberto Mondlane warned that the "biggest threat we have now, even bigger than the cyclone, is floods because it's raining more and more". It seems that 90% of the area is completely destroyed.

Beira is home to a major port that is essential for the supply of goods to the central part of the country, as well as Zimbabwe and Malawi, which are landlocked.

But giving a weather update, director of Climate Change and Meteorological Services Jolamu Nkhokwe said the change in direction of the Tropical Cyclone Idai was triggered by low pressure systems from South Africa which made it to slide southwards in place of the original northwards track.

The IFRC said aid workers were trying to reach the city - Mozambique's fourth largest and home to some 500,000 people - by road in order to help establish a response operation and assess the damage.

The storm hit Beira late Thursday and then moved westward into Zimbabwe and Malawi, affecting thousands more, particularly in eastern areas bordering Mozambique. The most affected areas are not yet accessible, and high winds and dense clouds have hampered military rescue helicopter flights.

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The boarding school was shut as the army, which is leading rescue operations, moved in to take the almost 200 students to safety.

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

The deaths, mostly due to drowning and injuries sustained during mudslides, have been recorded in Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland East.

Earlier this month, the United Nations launched an appeal for $234m to assist 2.2 million people out of 5.3 million that are in need of food assistance until June this year.

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