Maputo, 24 Feb (AIM) – Torrential rains, probably linked with the approach of tropical cyclone Freddy, have inundated the central Mozambican city of Beira since Wednesday morning.
Thousands of people were forced to flee from their flooded homes, notably in the densely populated neighbourhood of Manga, where streets had turned into rivers.
In some areas, residents insisted on staying in their homes, for fear that thieves would take advantage of the storm to steal their property. In the Nova Praia neighbourhood, one man, Lucas Gabriel, told the independent daily “O Pais” he was not moving “because all the houses are full of water and we are not safe in this zone. But what can we do, since we cannot abandon our property, otherwise people will rob us”.
In the centre of the city, houses were not inundated, but all the access roads were flooded, limiting movement of people and goods.
The Sofala provincial authorities suspended classes and closed all the schools in Beira. Clearly they failed to get their message across, since reporters interviewed children on Thursday trying, despite the weather, to make their way to school.
As forecast, Freddy made landfall on the coast of Inhambane province, at around midday on Friday. According to the US Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC), its wind speed was 65 knots (about 120 kilometres an hour). As it moves inland, the cyclone is predicted to weaken, with its speed falling to 25 knots by the time it reaches the Zimbabwean border.
Cited in Friday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, the chairperson of Mozambique’s relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGD), Luis Meque, said the basic conditions have been established to provide “decent assistance” to those affected by the cyclone.
In coordination with its partners, the INGD has activated accommodation centres and positioned food, drinking water and health services in the areas regarded as at high risk.