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Mozambique suspends flights, closes schools ahead of Cyclone Kenneth

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Precautionary measures in Mozambique

Mozambique’s National airline LAM has suspended flights between the capital Maputo and Pemba on the northeast coast because of Cyclone Kenneth, it said in a statement.

The Mozambique National Meteorology Institute (INAM) warned in a statement that the storm system was intensifying.

“The severe tropical storm has intensified in the past few hours into a Category Three tropical cyclone, and forecasts project that the cyclone could intensify to a Category Four on April 25,” it said.

Heavy rains and winds of up to 140 kilometres per hour (87 miles per hour) would follow, it added.

The INGC said it would relocate rescue equipment, including boats and helicopters previously reserved in Sofala province for victims of Idai, to Cabo Delgado where Kenneth is expected.

“We have water, we have a generator, we are prepared. We’ve done everything we were told to,” said a hotel owner in the small town of Mucojo which is projected to be close to the eye of the cyclone.

“We’ve learned with Idai that it’s a good strategy to allocate the rescue means before the cyclone…” Augusto Maita, general director of INGC told AFP.

The UN warned that the latest storm could trigger flash flooding and landslides in Mozambique’s far north and the government closed dozens of schools likely to be in the storm’s path.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said it was “watching the approaching tropical storm in northeastern Mozambique closely”.

“This storm will hit the north and we are expecting that heavy rain will provoke flash floods and landslides impacting the northeastern provinces of Cabo Delgado and Nampula,” it said in a statement.

“WFP is working under government coordination and with other humanitarians on an emergency preparedness plan.”

Impact in Comoros

Cyclone Kenneth passed the Indian Ocean archipelago nation Comoros on Thursday but its effects, including high winds and heavy rains, were still being felt, the country’s Meteorological Office wrote on Facebook.

“We must stay alert, avoid touching fallen power cables, wait for permission before driving and keep children at home,” it wrote.

An AFP team in the Comoran capital Moroni saw shacks destroyed by the rain and wind, and high seas as a result of the cyclone.

“I have three children, one is small just one month and ten days. We were here until 11 p.m. last night when things deteriorated,” a local resident told AFP.

“It was our neighbours who evacuated us.”

Cyclone to reach Mozambique on Thursday

Weather forecasters say Cyclone Kenneth will make landfall on Mozambique’s coast on Thursday, bringing heavy rainfall, strong winds and waves of several metres to the southern African nation, which is still reeling from the effects of devastating Cyclone Idai.

“It’s going to make landfall tomorrow afternoon at Cabo Delgado, on the northeastern coast of Mozambique, and it is going to be a cyclone with wind speeds which could be 140 km per hour (87 miles per hour),” said Jan Vermeulen, from the South African Weather Service.

International energy companies such as Exxon Mobil have been developing huge natural gas fields off the coast of northern Mozambique.

A cyclone report issued by a regional cyclone-monitoring centre on the French island of La Reunion said parts of southern Tanzania could also be affected by Cyclone Kenneth.

“The (weather) system will generate a storm surge when landing on the coast of Mozambique, which can reach between 2 and 4 metres in some areas, to which must be added the breaking of waves and heavy rainfall, which can cause flooding in Mozambique,” the report said.

Mozambique’s National Institute of Disaster Management said that about 682,500 people could be at risk from the storm in the northern Cabo Delgado and Niassa provinces. About 112,000 people were in areas where winds could be in excess of 120 km per hour, it said.

Cyclone Kenneth his Mayotte Island

Downpours and strong winds lashed the the French Indian Ocean island of Mayotte Tuesday night into Wednesday (April 24) as cyclone Kenneth hit the island, with the most vulnerable residents fleeing to shelters set up in local schools.

Additional downpours and strong winds are expected to last into Thursday (April 25) morning as Kenneth passes north of the island.

The tropical storm is also expected to make landfall on Mozambique’s coast on Thursday, just over a month after a more powerful storm struck the Mozambican port city of Beira further south and killed hundreds of people.

April 24, 2019: Comoros closes airports, schools

Comoran media are reporting that authorities have closed airports and schools for at least 24 hours as a precautionary measure ahead of the impending tropical storm that has been dubbed Cyclone Kenneth.

The Comoros islands have been on a cyclone alert since Tuesday, along with Madagascar, Mozambique and Tanzania.

The northern Grand Comore island is on the path of the severe tropical storm, which is expected to turn into a cyclone later today.

April 23, 2019: Mozambique braces for yet another cyclone

Mozambique is bracing itself for another tropical storm that could hit the country later this week, one month after the devastating Cyclone Idai.

An alert posted on the Facebook page of the Hurricanes, Typhoons and Cyclones centre warns of a tropical cyclone, to be called ‘Kenneth’, which may have consequences for the northern part of Cabo Delgado in Mozambique, as well as southern Tanzania from Tuesday to the end of the month.

The National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) said it was monitoring the low pressure system situated over northern Madagascar, which could reach Northern Mozambique and Southern Tanzania between Wednesday and Thursday.

How prepared is Mozambique?

The INGC, together with the National Institute of Meteorology (INAM), the ministries of Health and Agriculture and Food Security and cooperation partners, met in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo on Tuesday to discuss the meteorological and hydrological situation of the country over the last seven days.

“We will keep abreast of the evolution of this weather system. As you know, the INGC, INAM and the National Directorate of Water Resources work in an integrated manner,” INGC spokesman Paulo Tomás said after the meeting.

The authorities however believe it is premature to take extreme measures preparing for landfall, since it was ‘yet only a prediction’.

Nevertheless, INAM is gathering more concise information about the system in order to alert cooperation partners about possible responses to be initiated in the Northern part of Cabo Delgado.

On March 14, Mozambique was hit by Tropical Cyclone Idai, which caused more than 600 deaths, left hundreds missing and displaced thousands. The cyclone also severely affected Zimbabwe and Malawi.R

The International Monetary Fund said last week it will grant Mozambique a $118.2 million credit facility to help it rebuild infrastructure.

Madagascar, Comoros and Mayotte at risk

Before reaching the Eastern Africa coastline, the tropical storm is expected to pose life-threatening risks to people living in the Indian Ocean islands.

It is expected to enhance rainfall across far northern Madagascar from Tuesday night into Wednesday, while Mayotte and Comoros are also listed as locations at risk. —Africanews.


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