Cyclone Idai leaves scores dead in Zimbabwe, Mozambique

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'Dozens of casualties' as Cyclone Idai hits Mozambique

At least 24 people have been killed and dozens are missing in parts of eastern Zimbabwe after the country was hit by tropical cyclone Idai which lashed neighbouring Mozambique and Malawi, the government said.

At least 43 people died in central Mozambique and Zimbabwe after a tropical cyclone tore through the southern African nations, knocking out electricity and phone networks and cutting power to South Africa from a hydropower dam.

Joshua Sacco, a member of Parliament in the eastern district of Chimanimani, told Reuters that the storm had left a trail of destruction reminiscent of Cyclone Eline in February 2000, which devastated southern Zimbabwe.

Jacob Mafume, a spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said a "serious humanitarian crisis [was] unfolding" in the east of the country.

Tens of thousands of people, primarily in impoverished rural areas, have been cut off from roads and telephones.

Local officials said that this week's heavy rains claimed 66 lives, injured 111 people and displaced 17,000 people.

They also affected neighbouring Malawi, where 56 people died, the government said. "There were people inside", he told AFP, saying they were listed as missing.

"At least 25 houses were swept away following a mudslide at Ngangu township in Chimanimani urban". The cyclone first hit Mozambique with winds up to 106 miles per hour, then moved westward into Zimabwe and Malawi, destroying homes, schools, businesses and police stations.

Chimanimani, which borders Mozambique, has been worst affected, with the storm causing floods as well as destroying crops, Zimbabwe's Ministry of Information said.

"We have compatriots suffering without hope and we have to restore hope", he said on Friday as he set off on a three-day state visit to the kingdom that was previously known as Swaziland.

"The situation is dire but we don't know the exact particulars", said Jamie LeSueur, the Red Cross's roving emergency operations manager for Africa.

An official at the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) of Mozambique told AFP on Friday "there is extreme havoc".

Authorities were forced to close Beira worldwide airport after the air traffic control tower, the navigation systems and the runways were damaged by the storm.

Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi said the damage is "very worrisome" and said the flooding made it hard for aircraft to land and carry out rescue operations, according to Mozambique's state radio.

South Africa's military has also sent in aircraft and 10 medical personnel to help in Mozambique and Malawi, it said in a statement.

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