JOHANNESBURG, 4 March (IRIN) - Tropical
cyclone Japhet, which made a destructive landfall in Mozambique on Monday,
is now threatening Zimbabwe. Both countries are among six southern African
nations severely affected by drought-related food shortages.
News reports said that at least two people had been killed and several injured when the cyclone made landfall in Mozambique's southern province of Inhambane on Monday.
A Southern African Development Community (SADC) Floods and Drought Hazards Network report said that on Monday "satellite pictures and rainfall models indicated that Tropical Cyclone Japhet was ravaging southern Mozambique, and approaching eastern Zimbabwe". The cyclone was "very strong" and was characterised by strong maximum winds of 110 km/hr, with gusts up of up to 140 km/hr.
The SADC floods and drought network warned that the winds would "be accompanied by widespread damage" and "heavy rainfall", which could result in flooding. "News reports indicate that people in Mozambique have already been affected, particularly in Inhambane, and likely Gaza provinces. Informal reports also indicate impacts, particularly strong winds, as far as eastern Zimbabwe," the SADC report said.
On Tuesday afternoon the SADC network warned that although Japhet had dissipated to ex-cyclone status, it had re-strengthened overnight.
"According to an issuance by the La Reunion Tropical Cyclone Centre, the centre of the ex-cyclone is currently located in an area near the Gutu district in Zimbabwe, as at 06:00 GMT on 4 March. However, the areas affected by the re-strengthening of the ex-cyclone last night [Monday] went as far as Vilankulo district in Mozambique. The system is forecast to dissipate within the next 48 hours," the network concluded. Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe the Civil Protection Unit has warned the public to take precautions.
The Herald newspaper reported that according to the Meteorological Office - Manicaland, Mashonaland East, Masvingo and Midlands provinces - were likely to experience strong winds and heavy rainfall.
"The country is expected to suffer adverse effects of tropical Cyclone Japhet from [Monday] March 3 2003," Madzudzo Pawadyira, the director of the Civil Protection Unit, was quoted as saying.
On Monday IRIN reported that floods last week had killed two people and affected 6,000 others in lower Muzarabani, in northern Zimbabwe. Crops, livestock and homes were lost in the flooding.
The Civil Protection Unit has advised the public to stay indoors and close all windows and doors and urged people in low lying areas to move to higher ground.
In case of flooding, the unit warned school children, motorists, bus drivers and the public against attempting to cross flooded rivers or storm drains, The Herald reported.
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