Cyclone Idai batters Zimbabwe, at least 24 people dead

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At least 19 people died in Mozambique, according to the government, while a further 24 perished in Zimbabwe, state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation reported.

The boarding school has been shut and the army, which is leading rescue operations, is moving in to take the almost 200 students to safety.

Air force helicopters were rescuing people, but flights were being slowed by heavy winds.

The storm hit Beira late on Thursday and moved westwards into Zimbabwe and Malawi, affecting thousands more, particularly in eastern areas bordering Mozambique. Bore, who is also the Acting Head of the Civil Protection Department in Manicaland Province, said although more information is trickling in, over 125 houses in Ngangu have collapsed with forty people reportedly missing, while 30 are also missing in Rusitu.

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Jacob Mafume tweeted that there is a "serious humanitarian crisis" unfolding in eastern Zimbabwe districts.

Cyclone Idai made landfall on the night of March 14, bringing heavy rains and winds to four Mozambique provinces of Zambezia, Manica, Sofala and Inhambane.

Heavy downpours in neighbouring Malawi this week have affected nearly a million people and claimed 56 lives there, according to the latest government toll.

Читайте также: Trump says Europe is 'being ripped apart' by Brexit

Cyclone Eline smashed Mozambique in February 2000, compounding further floods, killing 350 and leaving 650,000 homeless.

"We have compatriots suffering without hope and we have to restore hope", he said on Friday as he set off on a three-day state visit to the kingdom that was previously known as Swaziland.

"The situation is dire but we don't know the exact particulars", said Jamie LeSueur, the Red Cross's roving emergency operations manager for Africa.

Hardest hit is Mozambique's central port city of Beira where the airport is closed, electricity is out and many homes have been destroyed.

An official at the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) told AFP earlier that "houses and trees were destroyed and pylons downed".

The storm damaged a Mozambican transmission line to South Africa, cutting supplies by 900 MW and worsening an electricity shortage in SA.

South Africa's military has sent in aircraft and 10 medical personnel to help in Mozambique and Malawi, it said in a statement Saturday.

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