By Lindi Masingi
Mozambique is on high alert as Tropical Cyclone Idai barrels towards the country’s central coast, potentially putting thousands of lives in danger.
Dr Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, Regional Director for Africa for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said: “This dangerous and powerful cyclone could pose an extreme risk to tens of thousands of people in Mozambique. Our teams are on high alert in anticipation of a potentially destructive landfall.
“We encourage people in Mozambique to remain alert, to keep following weather forecasts, and to respond immediately to any warning messages that are relayed by authorities.”
Red Cross disaster response teams in Zambesia and Sofala provinces said they were readying response plans in anticipation of the cyclone’s landfall towards the end of the week.
According to meteorologists, Idai’s intensity was equal to that of a Category 3 Atlantic hurricane. However, at its peak intensity, it could reach the equivalent of a Category 4 or even a Category 5 hurricane.
Depending on its intensity and trajectory, Cyclone Idai could also exacerbate the situation in southern Malawi where more than 115 000 people have been affected by severe flooding, the IFRC said.
In Malawi, Red Cross search and rescue teams were ferrying people trapped by the rising water to safety, as well as distributing basic relief items in six of the worst-affected districts.
Mozambique is regularly hit by cyclones.
In February 2007, Cyclone Favio damaged or destroyed 130 000 homes and displaced tens of thousands of people. In 2000, Cyclone Eline hit an already flood-affected central Mozambique, leaving about 463 000 people homeless. African News Agency.