400 people homeless as Tropical Cyclone Desmond lashes Mozambique

APA-Maputo (Mozambique)

At least 400 people have vacated their homes after Mozambique's fourth largest city was inundated by flooding, following the arrival of tropical cyclone Desmond, which swept through the country's central regions on Wednesday.

According to experts, tropical Cyclone Desmond formed in the Mozambique Channel early on Tuesday and drifted slowly northwest towards the coast.

Fortunately, the winds in the upper atmosphere were much stronger than those near the surface, which hampered the storm's growth and prevented it from becoming too intense.

This ensured the winds were not too strong when the storm made landfall, but the rain was still extremely heavy and the seas very rough.

The storm hit the coast about 40km to the south of Chinde, 200km to the north of Beira, but the worst of the rain was to the west of the storm's center. Biera, the fourth largest city in Mozambique, was badly hit.

"The bridge that gives access to the headquarters of the Mafambisse Administrative Post is submerged, and the roads of the interior of the district are impassable; 400 people are now homeless, and 40 houses of precarious material totally destroyed.

“In the District of Muanza, 14 houses of precarious construction were destroyed totally, affecting 14 families," read a media statement from the Sofala provincial government in Mozambique seen by APA on Wednesday.

The release added that large waves smashed over the top of sea defences and the torrential rain transformed roads into rivers, while vehicles were submerged up to their windows and dirty floodwater rushed into people's homes and businesses.

Weather authorities in Mozambique have warned that the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Desmond are expected to bring more flooding to central Mozambique and southern Malawi, as it disintegrates above the region.

Over the next 24 hours, some places could see as much as 200mm more rain, and it looks like Madagascar could be hit by even worse conditions.

Another circulation in the Mozambique Channel is expected to develop over the coming days.

This system is expected to track south, off the coast of Madagascar, and is likely to pull a trail of heavy downpours across the northwest of the island.

This would bring further torrential rain to a region that is already waterlogged, which could easily lead to flooding and landslides.

Mozambique is prone to natural disasters, including drought, cyclones and floods, particularly during the rainy season, running between October and March, the following year.

The worst flooding in Mozambique’s history was in the year 2,000, when about 700 were killed and more than half a million others were left without shelter.


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