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Over 30 Killed, Nearly 200 Students Stranded As Cyclone Idai Devastates Zimbabwe

Cyclone Idai left a trail of destruction in neighboring Mozambique.
Cyclone Idai left a trail of destruction in neighboring Mozambique.

At least 31 people have been killed and nearly 200 students are stranded in Zimbabwe’s Manicaland province hard hit by Cyclone Idai, which devastated some parts of Mozambique and Malawi.

According to the Ministry of Information, hundreds of people have been left homeless as heavy rains are pounding Chimanimani, Mutare, Chipinge and other surrounding areas.

In a tweet, the ministry said, “Chimanimani has been hard hit. Areas affected include Chimanimani urban, Charleshood Farm, Machongwe, Vhimba and Kopa Growth Point. Haroni River in Ward 12 has burst its banks. Nyahonde River at Kopa business center has burst. Government is responding.”

The ministry further said more than 40 people are missing as children at St. Charles Luwanga, a Roman Catholic Church-run entity, are stranded following heavy rains with strong winds.

The ministry said in a tweet, “The Army is moving in from Chipinge to rescue 197 pupils from Charles Luwanga so they can take them to Mhandarume. This a very challenging operation as it's being undertaken as a ground effort because of unsafe weather conditions for air efforts. We will keep the nation updated.

“The wind remains a challenge for the Airforce to rescue those who are marooned but concerted efforts are being made to bring everyone to safety.”

In Mutare, according to the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, 20 families have been left homeless while 125 houses in Ngangu have collapsed. About 30 people are missing in Risutu area.

The ministry of information said, “… The ZNA is seized with the rescue effort but bridges that got swept away are slowing down their efforts … Consignments of supplies being ferried to the affected areas in Chimanimani. These include buckets, tarpulines, boxes of laundry soap, Jerry cans, boxes of bath soap, nets and raincoats to be used by volunteers.”

In a statement, the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society said it has deployed its volunteers to support affected communities in Chipinge and Chimanimani.

This cyclone follows a week of heavy rains and flooding across southeast Africa that has already killed at least 126 people in Malawi, Mozambique, and South Africa. More than a million people have been affected in all.

In Mozambique, the floods have already affected 117,000 people with more than 17,000 displaced. In neighbouring Malawi, nearly one million people have been affected including more than 80,000 who are without shelter. Both countries are prone to extreme weather events.

Earlier this week, IFRC released more than 340,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to support local Red Cross early warning and early action, and to prepare to support 7,500 people in the aftermath of the storm.