Cyclone Idai: Death toll 'could reach 1,000'

Mozambique cyclone kills dozens, cuts power to SA

The storm's strong winds and heavy rains then moved inland toward Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Speaking on state Radio Mozambique, President Filipe Nyusi said that while the official death toll stood at 84, "It appears that we can register more than 1,000 deaths".

"The waters of the Pungue and Buzi rivers overflowed, making whole villages disappear and isolating communities, and bodies are floating", Nyusi said. "It's a real humanitarian disaster of large proportions", said Nyusi.

A total of around 1.5 million people have been affected by Cyclone Idai's torrential rains and winds that have reached speeds of up to 200 kilometres or 124 miles, per hour.

The Mozambican port city of Beira has suffered massive damage, the Red Cross said.

"The situation is awful", Jamie LeSueur, who's leading the Red Cross assessment team in Beira, said in a statement.

"The scale of devastation (in Beira) is enormous".

The agency added that a dam broke in the area on March 17, cutting off a road to the city, which has about 530,000 residents.

Communication is hard in some areas and anxious relatives are trying to reach their loved ones through the less damaged roads, but increased traffic is now slowing down relief efforts.

In addition, tens of thousands of people have been displaced and homes, roads, bridges and crops have been washed away, World Food Programme (WFP) spokesperson, Hervé Verhoosel, told journalists in Geneva.

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Devastating effects of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique. Before the storm even made landfall, its outer bands caused flooding in neighboring Malawi, killing more than 120, demonstrating just how huge the storm was.

According to Cyclocane, Idai is now over both Mozambique and Zimbabwe, and is travelling northwest.

In Zimbabwe, an additional 70 people were confirmed dead on Sunday, according to government officials. The information has not been verified by CNN.

Joshua Sacco, a legislator from affected Chimanimani East district, said the number of those missing is not known as an entire village was swept away.

Roads and bridges have been severely damaged while thousands of people have been left homeless after their homes collapsed in the driving rains and floods. The country is in poor shape to withstand the financial impact of a disaster: Zimbabwe is now in the grip of a deep economic crisis.

Soldiers helped rescue almost 200 students, teachers and staff who were caught in the flood waters and trapped at their school in Chimanimani.

Cyclone Idai killed at least 157 people in Zimbabwe and Mozambique as it tore across Southern Africa, officials and state media said on Monday, and vast areas of land have been flooded, roads destroyed and communications disrupted. It's a convergence of flooding, cyclones, dams breaking and making a potential wave: "everything's in place so we get a ideal storm".

CNN's Vasco Cotovio wrote from London.

- TNC Africa (@Nature_Africa) March 18, 2019 The death and destruction caused by cyclones in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe continue.

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