Mozambique’s port city of Beira has been cut off from the rest of the country and the world after cyclone Idai downed electricity, communication and telecom services in the city of about 500 000 people.
Banks and retail outlets in Beira remained closed, this morning a few hours after the cyclone pounded the city.
Images posted on social media show significant damage to Beira, with makeshift roofs blown away and trees uprooted:
Reuters quoted Jan Vermeulen, a senior forecaster at the South African Weather Service as confirming that communications into-and out of Beira had been cut off.
“We don’t have any communications from the area. This is an intense tropical cyclone, and I think there’s a lot of damage to infrastructure which is probably responsible for the loss in communications,” Vermeulen said.
An update from the National Institute of Meteorology in the morning indicate the cyclone is weakening, as it is now a Category 3 tropical cyclone with winds of 140 kilometres per hour, gusting up to 160 kilometres per hour.
It is expected that, by 2:00 p.m this afternoon wind speeds will fall to 70 kilometres per hour as the storm maintains its course towards Manica Province in Mozambique.
The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, a group linked to the World Bank and the UN, says Mozambique is the third most at-risk country in Africa when it comes to extreme weather.