Tropical Cyclone “Idai” makes landfall near Beira, widespread damage, power and communication loss, Mozambique


Tropical Cyclone "Idai" made landfall at 23:30 UTC on March 14, 2019, close to the city of Beira (population 534 000), Mozambique as Intense Tropical Cyclone with wind speeds up to 170 km/h (104 mph) and central pressure of 960 hPa. The cyclone dropped heavy rain on the region, killed at least one person and injured five (preliminary reports). Idai became the deadliest weather disaster of the year anywhere in the world prior to landfall, with at least 122 people killed (66 in Mozambique and 56 in Malawi), thousands of homes destroyed and nearly 1 million affected.

At 00:00 UTC on March 15, Idai's eye was almost totally over land, with Beira located in it, a dozen kilometers from the center, RSMC La Reunion said. The eyewall was expected to reach the city within several minutes.

First reports mention 500 000 residents of Beira, Mozambique's fourth largest city, without electricity, severed communications and significant damage to the city, with makeshift roofs blown away and trees uprooted.

Mozambique's National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC) said houses were destroyed and pylons downed in the city, adding that the coastal town of Chinde (400 km / 250 miles) NE of Beira was also badly hit.

In addition, nearby villages have been cut off from the mainland by 2 m (6.5 feet) tidal surge.

While INGC is yet to give an update on the situation, preliminary reports mention at least one person killed (a 3-year-old child) and at least 5 people seriously injured.

The INGC-led convoy is expected to arrive in Beira at around 20:00 local time (18:00 UTC). As the weather is getting better, the team will fly out drones for the initial assessment.

Tropical Cyclone "Idai" on March 15, 2019. Credit: NASA Terra/MODIS

At 12:00 UTC on March 15, Idai was an overland depression with maximum wind speed of 65 km/h (40 mph) and central pressure of 994 hPa.

"Over the past 6 hours, Ex-Idai has continued to move inland while rapidly weakening," RSMC La Reunion said. "It should keep its WNW track and reach the border with Zimbabwe by the end of the afternoon. Even if the winds will decay significantly, the remains of the circulation are forecast to persist for several days, bringing heavy rains on Zimbabwe and the border area with Mozambique up to early next week."

This was the last warning issued by the RSMC related to this system.




March 16

At least 19 people have been killed in Mozambique and 24 in neighboring Zimbabwe, authorities said early March 16. At least 140 are missing in both countries and are also feared dead.

Due to bad weather, all flights to Beira, Mozambique have been canceled. 

While the full impact of the storm is still emerging, we know that at least 145 houses were swept away and 4 major bridges damaged in and around Beira. Lack of communication continues to hamper data collection on the ground, authorities said. IFRC Africa said their colleagues indicate that many parts of Beira have been seriously damaged.

According to OCHA, preliminary estimates suggest up to 600 000 people may have been severely impacted in Mozambique, including 100 000 people already affected by flooding in early March in the Provinces of Tete and Zambezia.

Zimbabwe's information ministry said the town of Chimanimani had been cut from the rest of Manicaland province. At least 25 houses were swept away at Ngangu township alone. Numerous people there are still missing.

The death toll is expected to rise in both countries.

March 17

At least 65 people have been killed in Zimbabwe.

First flights into Beira, Mozambique have started today.

Featured image: Damage in the city of Beira, Mozambique after Tropical Cyclone "Idai" landfall. Credit: Anouk Delafortrie


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