Mozambique braces for 'extremely dangerous' Cyclone Idai

An aerial image of the floods in Malawi

Durban rescuers lend a hand to Mozambique as Cyclone Idai approaches

"The government has decreed a red alert due to the continuing rains and the approach of the tropical cyclone Idai, expected to reach the country between Thursday to Friday", said cabinet spokeswoman Ana Comoana.

The cyclone is centred near the city of Chimoio in Manica Province but it is not having a significant impact on South African weather.

In February 2000, Cyclone Eline hit Mozambique when it was already devastated by its worst floods in three decades. The storm is expected to make landfall late Thursday night local time just south of Beira.

Malawi and Mozambique have requested assistance from the South African government following the destruction caused by Cyclone Idai in the two neighbouring countries. Locally damaging winds will also be possible in for Zimbabwe.

Mozambique is prone to extreme weather events.

Mozambique ranks third among countries in Africa most susceptible to weather-related hazards, according to the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery. In the days before landfall, meteorologists predicted Idai's storm surge could be as high as 26 feet. The National Institute of Disaster Management in Mozambique estimates a funding requirement of about US$18 million for food and non-food items, and an additional $13.9 million for emergency road work in Zambezia (where 31 per cent of the road network has been damaged) and Cabo Delgado (50 per cent of the road network damaged).

Weather service showed that the storm was off the east coast of Mozambique, with winds already in excess of 100km/h.

And according to reports, the tropical cylcone was packing winds of more than 200km per hour.

"Our intervention includes 70 personnel (aquatic rescue, rescue technicians, rescue divers, advance life support paramedics and doctors), 22 vehicles (4×4), 10 power boats, 4 jet skis, 14 inflatable, non-motorised two-man rescue boats, a range of rescue equipment and access to an eight-seater plane", the organisation's founder Imtiaz Sooliman said in a brief statement.

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