Mozambique News Agency

AIM Reports


300 soldiers aid cyclone victims

Maputo, 23 Feb (AIM) - Mozambique's National Civil Protection Unit (UNAPROC) on Thursday sent a further 100 members of the armed forces (FADM) to Vilankulo, in the southern province of Inhambane, to assist victims of cyclone Favio. According to the national relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), there are now 300 troops deployed to the cyclone-hit regions to take part in rescue operations.

Cyclone Favio smashed into the tourist resort of Vilankulo on Thursday. Classed as a category four cyclone, Favio brought heavy rain and winds gusting up to 180-200 kilometres an hour as it struck the Vilankulo coast on Thursday morning.

According to the mayor of Vilankulo, Sulemane Amugi, interviewed by Mozambican Television (TVM), 17 people in the town are known to have suffered injuries in the storm, but there are no reports of any deaths.

The cyclone left a trail of destruction in Vilankulo, uprooting trees, blowing down power lines. Roofs were ripped off many buildings, including a local health centre and maternity ward, a boarding home for secondary school students, the residence of the Vilankulo district judge, and the delegation of the National Meteorology Institute (INAM). Hundreds of houses built of flimsy material were damaged or destroyed.

Among the buildings severely affected was the Vilankulo district prison - and all the prisoners took the opportunity to escape.

Although damaged, the district hospital continued to function, and doctors and nurses were caring for those injured in the storm.

There is no electricity in the town, and many of its roads are blocked. Vilankulo international airport has been closed to traffic.

The government has dispatched a team to assess the impact of the cyclone. Included in the team are the Ministers of Energy and of Health, Salvador Namburete and Ivo Garrido. A technical team from the ministries of public work, health and agriculture and three UN agencies (UNICEF, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organisation) are also on their way to Vilankulo to evaluate the district's immediate needs.

Favio also cut communications, and isolated the island of Bazaruto, and its luxury hotel. It is not known whether any tourists decided to stay in the hotel and see out the storm, or whether they all managed to leave the island.

The emergency operations centre run by the country's relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), estimates about 93,000 people were affected by the cyclone in Vilankulo, Inhassoro and Govuro districts (the cyclone moved
through the latter two districts as it headed northward, into Sofala province). It is not yet known how many of these people have lost their homes.

When they leave the oceans and move over land, cyclones rapidly lose energy. Senior Mozambican meteorologist Helder Sueia told AIM on Friday that Favio is no longer considered a cyclone at all, but has been downgraded to a tropical depression.

The storm continued to move northwest overnight, and by about 09.00 on Friday morning it was in Nhamatanda district, some 100 kilometres west of the country' second city, Beira. Favio's wind speeds have fallen to 70-80 kilometres an hour.

Contrary to some alarmist speculation, Favio did not score a direct hit on Beira. The centre of the storm missed the city by a considerable distance, though the system did bring winds of up to 60 kilometres an hour and 28 millimetres of rainfall to Beira. It
rained more heavily (54 millimetres) in Chimoio, capital of the neighbouring province of Manica.

Favio's current trajectory will take it across Manica and into Zimbabwe, weakening as it moves. It is expected to reach the Zimbabwean border by late Friday afternoon. The United States Joint Typhoon Warning Centre confirmed on Friday morning that
Favio is dissipating. It intended to issue no further warnings about Favio, unless the storm system should somehow regenerate.

Heavy rains are expected to fall over Sofala, Manica and eastern Zimbabwe on Friday. Some of this water may eventually make its way into the Zambezi basin - but on its current path there is no way that Favio itself can strike the Zambezi valley.
It is currently moving away from the flooded areas of the lower Zambezi such as Caia and Marromeu.

Meanwhile a second cyclone, Gamede, has formed in the Indian Ocean, and is heading towards northern Madagascar, gaining in power, and with wind speeds of up to 100 kilometres an hour.

Sueia told AIM it was too early to forecast whether this storm would also hit the Mozambican coast. (AIM)


email: Mozambique News Agency

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