, Maputo, Mozambique, Feb 14 – Mozambique braced for flooding, sea surges and evacuations on Wednesday as forecasters predicted a “formidable” storm system could develop into a tropical cyclone before it hits land.
Severe Tropical Storm Dineo was set to make landfall in the southern province of Inhambane in the evening, packing winds of about 130 kilometres (80 miles) an hour, the South African Weather Service (SAWS) said.
As winds picked up along the coast on Wednesday, it said the storm was likely to intensify and “there is a good chance that it will reach Tropical Cyclone status”.
Torrential rain, widespread flooding and a marine storm surge were forecast, with SAWS warning that Dineo was “a formidable storm system which has the potential to cause much damage to coastal and inland infrastructure”.
The Mozambique Red Cross dispatched emergency relief supplies and 350 staff to areas likely to be in the storm’s impact zone, where rivers are already at flood level.
“Many of the districts likely to be hit have been inundated by above normal rainfall since early January,” Jamie Le Sueur, Red Cross disaster management coordinator for southern Africa, said.
The Red Cross warned that flooding could also contaminate water sources and spread sickness after the storm passes.
– Seek shelter –
Mozambique’s National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC) issued an alert over the cyclone threat, and advised people to prepare food and water supplies and for vulnerable communities to seek safe shelter.
The INGC said it was also planning safe evacuation routes.
Local media reported that floods were expected in the cities of Inhambane and Maxixe as well as many villages, with houses, crops. roads and livestock at risk as well as human lives.
Officials advised locals to turn off electricity and stay away from power cables to avoid shocks, and to fix wood or plastic over windows.
Heavy rains will spread into South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana on Thursday and Friday as the storm weakens forecasters say.
Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries, is often battered by deadly flooding and storms.
In 2000, floods claimed at least 800 lives, and more than 100 were killed in 2015.
Scores have already died in the current rainy season, which began in October.
The high death toll in 2000 triggered donor funding for relocations and improvements to water management infrastructure, early warning systems and emergency response resources.