Maputo, 13 Mar (AIM) – Cyclone Freddy deprived over 100,000 citizens of electricity when it hit the central Mozambican province of Zambezia on Saturday, according to the initial estimate by the publicly-owned electricity company, EDM.
The cyclone made landfall on the Zambezia coast on Saturday morning with winds of up to 190 kilometres an hour, and gusts of 250 kilometres an hour.
EDM said its teams are on the ground attempting to restore power as soon as possible, but the continuing high winds and heavy rains are hindering their work.
Nonetheless, according to the local EDM director, Maria Fernanda, interviewed by the independent television station STV, by Sunday afternoon the number of EDM clients without power had fallen to about 50,000.
Power had been restored throughout the north of the country, but much of Zambezia remained without power, including the provincial capital, Quelimane, and the districts of Namacurra, Nicoadala, Pebane, Mocubela and Maganja da Costa.
It will take some time to restore power to all of Quelimane, since the cyclone knocked down 112 electricity pylons in and around the city.
The torrential rains brought by Freddy also flooded the Manhava electricity sub-station in the central city of Beira, with the result that much of this city too was without power.
As for communications, initially the cyclone made it impossible to phone in or out of Quelimane on any of the fixed or mobile networks. By Sunday afternoon, the smallest of the mobile operators, the Vietnamese owned Movitel, was operational in the city, and the regulatory body, the National Communications Institute of Mozambique (INCM), was optimistic that the other two operators, TMCEL and Vodacom, would be working again on Monday.
Even though the cyclone is weakening as it moves inland, another three or four days of heavy rain is expected in Zambezia, making serious flooding in the province’s main river valleys very likely.
So far, the confirmed death toll from the cyclone is just one, a man who died in Maganja da Costa district when his house collapsed on top of him. But, given the impossibility of communication with much of the province, the true death toll could be considerably higher.