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At least 24 dead, dozens missing in Zimbabwe after cyclone

At least 24 dead, dozens missing in Zimbabwe after cyclone

Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi have been hit by a vicious cyclone that has killed almost 150 people, left hundreds more missing and stranded tens of thousands who are cut off from roads and telephones in mainly poor, rural areas.

Earlier a lawmaker told AFP that thousands of people have been affected, power cut off and major bridges flooded.

The dead included two school students who were among dozens of children trapped in a dormitory after rocks fell from a nearby mountain, said Mangwana. "We need state intervention on a massive scale to avoid biblical disaster", he said.

Zimbabwe's information ministry said the worst of the storm hit the mountainous Chimanimani region, some 350 kilometers (217 miles) southeast of the capital, Harare.

As Cyclone Idai sweeps across southern Africa cutting off cities such as Beira in Mozambique and flooding farms, the United Nations and humanitarian partners estimate Sh4 billion is needed for emergency relief.

Central Mozambique has been struck by a deadly cyclone, with heavy rain and winds reaching up to 105mph (170km/h).

The storm hit with wind gusts of about 160 kilometres per hour, causing ocean waves of up to nine metres high.

"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.

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As the cyclone approached, the Red Cross sent out more than 200 volunteers to areas most likely to be affected.

Hundreds were left stranded at Mozambique's Maputo International Airport when the country's national airline carrier LAM canceled all of its lights to Beira and Quelimane on Wednesday.

Describing it as a "difficult emergency" to tackle, he told AFP said it would require "the full force of the humanitarian community behind the government of Mozambique to respond to rapidly".

An official at the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) told AFP earlier that "houses and trees were destroyed and pylons downed".

Beira's worldwide airport was closed after the cyclone made landfall, damaging the air traffic control tower, the navigation systems and the runways.

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.

The storm also affected power supplies to neighbouring South Africa which imports electricity from Mozambique to supplement its own production.

Power utility Eskom on Saturday bumped up rotational load shedding from Stage 2 to Stage 4 due to a shortage of capacity exacerbated by the loss of 900 MW from Mozambique Fin24 reported.