Authorities in Mozambique said the toll there had risen to 62 in the centre of the country, while Zimbabwe said 65 people were killed in affected eastern areas, after the cyclone tore across the region on Friday and Saturday.
“I think this is the biggest natural disaster Mozambique has ever faced. Everything is destroyed. Our priority now is to save human lives,” said Mozambique’s environment Minister Celso Correia.
Idai hit Mozambique first on Thursday night before moving to Zimbabwe.
In Zimbabwe, eastern Chimanimani district was the worst hit part of the country, where houses and bridges were washed away by flash floods.
The most affected areas were not yet accessible, while high winds and dense clouds hampered military rescue helicopter flights.
“So far we looking at 65 people that have lost their lives,” Joshua Sacco, lawmaker for Chimanimani said , adding that between “150 to 200 people” were missing.
The majority of those unaccounted for are thought to be government workers, whose housing complex was completely engulfed by raging waters. Their fate is currently unknown because the area is still unreachable.
“We are very worried because all these houses were just suddenly submerged under water and literally washed away and that is where we have about 147 missing,” he said. “It’s very sad and the situation is dire.”
Two pupils at a secondary school in the area were among those killed, after a landslide sent a boulder crashing into their dormitory, the country’s civil protection agency said.
Soldiers on Sunday helped rescue nearly 200 pupils, teachers and staff who had been trapped at the school in Chimanimani.
The United Nations in Zimbabwe said that nearly 10,000 were affected by the cyclone.
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who cut short a visit to Abu Dhabi over the cyclone, has declared a state of disaster in the affected areas.
It’s the second tragedy to hit Zimbabwe in as many months. In February, more than 40 illegal gold miners were trapped deep underground following a flash flood.
Idai battered central Mozambique on Friday, cutting off more than half a million residents of the port city Beira where the environment minister said 80 percent of the electricity network was destroyed.
“All roads are cut, the infrastructure is destroyed, practically everything is destroyed,” said Correia.
A significant part of the central region was “absolutely decimated by this cyclone, even larger than anticipated,” said Jamie LeSueur, the International Federation of Red Cross’s roving emergency operations manager for Africaafter an aerial survey of the affected areas in Mozambique.
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