Natural disasters are often vicious when they leave their trail of destruction behind, and this is the case with tropical Cyclone Idai. The cyclone, which hit Mozambique first, made its way through Zimbabwe and left at least 31 people dead, displaced 200 people and more than 100 people are missing.
Cyclone Idai has been the deadliest tropical storm since Cyclone Eline which resulted in the deaths of 91 people. According to the United Nations, the cyclone has affected more than 1.5 million people in three Southern African countries (Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe).
The deaths in Zimbabwe were mainly from Chimanimani East. Among the casualties were 2 students from St Charles Lwanga High School who died. 10 victims from Ngangu Township in Chimanimani were among the casualties.
The flash floods caused by the cyclone have resulted in the destruction of roads, bridges, businesses, hospitals and police stations. The heavy flooding also resulted in thousands being stranded.
Zimbabwe's president (who is currently out of the country on an "official State visit" to the United Arab Emirates) declared a State of Disaster in terms of the country's laws. This allows the Civil Protection Unit in Zimbabwe to support communities and provide relief. The Zimbabwean national army also led rescue efforts to airlift students from a damaged school (St Charles Lwanga High School) and others trapped by the storm.
"My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by Cyclone Idai. Rescue operations are underway and we are grateful for the bravery of the men and women of the Zimbabwean armed forces who, along with our local and international partners, are participating in the urgent rescue efforts," President Mnangagwa tweeted.
The cyclone has now dissipated into a tropical depression, giving room for rescuers to get into the affected areas. The Meteorological Services Department said that, "It is now a tropical depression which is subsiding and Monday (tomorrow) should see a significant decline in precipitation across the country if this situation is maintained. Going forward, the depression is expected to be controlling the weather over much of the country."
Cyclone Idai made a landfall in Mozambique on Thursday, resulting in the deaths of 19 people, and about 70 were severely injured. Wind gusts of about 160 km per hour caused ocean waves of up to nine metres high. The cyclone has receded in Mozambique, but it will likely cause more trouble. Food insecurity is now one of the biggest hurdles being faced. Rivers have flooded seriously, with banks bursting - creating real dangers to people even though the tropical storm has ebbed.
Beira was at the centre of the storm, and when it hit, "authorities were forced to close the international airport in the port city of Beira after the air traffic control tower, the navigation systems and the runways were damaged by the storm."
The National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) of Mozambique told the AFP that there was "extreme havoc." They added, ""Some runway lights were damaged, the navigation system is damaged, the control tower antennas and the control tower itself are all damaged. The runway is full of obstacles and parked aircraft are damaged."
In Malawi, the heavy floods resulted in the deaths of 56 people, affecting almost a million people.
Header image credit - Sunday Mail