A powerful cyclone was set to make landfall in northern Mozambique Thursday, barely a month after a super-storm slammed into the country’s centre, leaving hundreds dead and causing devastation.
As Cyclone Kenneth barrelled towards to the northeastern coast after swiping the Comoros, the UN warned of flash flooding and landslides. Dozens of schools were closed and all flights between the capital Maputo and Pemba were cancelled.
Forecasters at Meteo-France warned that Kenneth could trigger waves off Mozambique’s northeastern shore as much as five metres (16 feet) higher than usual.
The Red Cross warned it was “especially concerned” about the storm’s impact, as many communities in Mozambique are still recovering from a cyclone that hit on the night of March 14-15.
The most powerful storm to strike the region in decades, Cyclone Idai cut a path of destruction through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. It left more than a thousand dead and causing damage estimated at around $2 billion (1.8 billion euros).
Kenneth passed by the Indian Ocean archipelago nation Comoros on Thursday, battering it with high winds and heavy rains, the country’s Meteorological Office wrote on Facebook.
“We must stay alert, avoid touching fallen power cables, wait for permission before driving and keep children at home,” it said.
An AFP team in the Comoran capital Moroni saw shacks destroyed by the rain and wind, and high seas as a result of the cyclone.
“I have three children, one is small, just one month and 10 days (old). We were here until 11 p.m. last night when things deteriorated,” local resident Abdillah Alaoui told AFP.
“It was our neighbours who evacuated us.”
– Tanzania concern –
Tanzanian authorities ordered schools and businesses shut in some southern districts on Thursday and urged people to brace for extreme winds and rain.
The Tanzanian provinces of Mtwara, Lindi and Ruvuma were at highest risk and could experience strong winds and downpours from the middle of the Thursday, the country’s meteorological agency said.
Residents in Mtwara were already leaving the coastal enclave with their families, some on foot, for emergency shelters, witnesses told AFP by phone.
Gelasius Byakanwa, the governor of Mtwara, ordered schools closed in his province and asked “students to stay home and employees not to go to their offices”.
However, he called on medical staff, police and utility workers to remain on duty.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said it was “watching the approaching tropical storm in northeastern Mozambique closely”.
“This storm will hit the north and we are expecting that heavy rain will provoke flash floods and landslides impacting the northeastern provinces of Cabo Delgado and Nampula,” it said in a statement.
“WFP is working under government coordination and with other humanitarians on an emergency preparedness plan.”