More than 100 people have been killed and 843,000 affected by torrential rains in Malawi, Mozambique, and South Africa, the UN and officials said, as tropical cyclone Idai is expected to hit the continent’s south-eastern countries.
At least 66 people in Mozambique, and four in South Africa were killed, after heavy rains caused flash flooding.
In neighbouring Malawi, the death toll rose to 56, an official said on Wednesday, with the country on high alert for cyclone Idai, which is expected to make landfall on Friday.
Almost 83,000 people have been displaced in the country since storms began more than a week ago, causing rivers to break their banks, leaving villages underwater, and knocking out power and water supplies in some areas.
Chipiliro Khamula, spokesman for Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management, said 56 deaths had been recorded as of Tuesday, as well as 577 injuries.
“Most of the displaced families are living in camps,” Khamula said.
“So far, a total of 187 camps have been established in the affected districts.”
Malawi is on high alert for more rain and flooding on Thursday when tropical Cyclone Idai is expected to make landfall through Beira, Mozambique, the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services said.
The cyclone will dump heavy rains and winds over Mozambique, before moving to southern Malawi and later Zimbabwe, the department’s director, Jolam Nkhokwe, said.
Malawi’s President Arthur Peter Mutharika, who declared a state of disaster in southern Malawi late on Friday, cancelled trips to the northern region of Malawi to attend to the flooding.
The Mozambique government have also issued a “red alert” with heavy rains expected to continue.
Mozambique cabinet spokeswoman, Ana Comoana said in Maputo on Tuesday: “the government has decreed a red alert due to the continuing rains and the approach to the tropical cyclone Idai.”
The floods have reportedly already destroyed more than 5,000 homes, and affected more than 140,000 people in the country, which is one of the poorest on the continent.
More than 168,000 hectares of crops were destroyed, the government spokeswoman said, and authorities ordered the compulsory evacuation of flood-prone areas.
Ms Comoana added: “Sixteen accommodation centres have been opened in the provinces of Zambezia and Tete to accommodate the displaced.”
“The government needs 1.1 billion meticais ($16m) to assist 80,000 families affected by the rains.”
“Tropical Cyclone Idai, which formed over the Northern Mozambique Channel on March 9, is expected to make landfall near Beira on March 14 or 15,” said the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
— Standard/ Additional reporting by Reuters.