Residents warned as tropical cyclone Idai intensifies over Mozambique

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At least 115 people were killed in Mozambique, Malawi and South Africa after heavy rains affected 843 000 people across southeast Africa, officials and the United Nations said, prompting calls for emergency aid.

Mozambique cabinet spokesperson Ana Comoana said the "government has decreed a red alert due to the continuing rains and the approach of the tropical cyclone Idai, expected to reach the country between Thursday to Friday", Al Jazeera reported. Rapid needs assessments are ongoing in the areas hardest-hit by rains and flooding to verify initial estimates regarding the number of people affected and determine the number of people in need of immediate humanitarian assistance.

The storm is expected to deliver a massive punch to the country when it hits, as pre-storm flooding in Mozambique has already killed 66 people.

In Mozambique, 111 people have been injured, 18 hospitals destroyed, 938 classrooms destroyed and 9,763 students affected.

That would make it the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in Mozambique since Tropical Cyclone Eline which struck the country in February 2000, claiming at least 800 lives. Almost 85,000 hectares of crops have been flooded, affecting more than 57,800 smallholder farmers.

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Authorities have ordered the compulsory evacuation of people living in flood-prone areas.

WHILE South Africa is said to be spared most of the impacts of category 4 cyclone which is fast approaching the Mozambican coast, Durban-based emergency services officials are deploying to our coastal neighbour to provide rescue and relief aid.

Residents in central Mozambique were on Thursday bracing for a tropical cyclone described as "extremely dangerous" by weather experts, with imminent landfall expected near the port city of Beira, which has a population of about 530,000 people. Gusts of winds estimated to be over 250km hour are set to lash the coastline with an expected rainfall of 300 - 350mls.

"It's an intense tropical cyclone; it will have winds of 105 knots (200km/h) when it makes landfall", said Vermeulen.

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