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First rains hit Mozambique as Cyclone Freddy nears


The cyclone, one of the strongest storms in the southern hemisphere, previously hit Mozambique in February.

Intense rain and wind began to batter parts of Mozambique as Tropical Cyclone Freddy swept across the country for the second time in as many weeks, authorities said.

According to the Mozambique National Meteorology Institute (INAM), Freddy slowed his advance into the South African country and found himself 60 kilometers (40 mi) offshore by Saturday morning.

“The system reduced its speed from seven to four km/h, delaying the entry,” INAM said in an update. “Heavy rains and very strong winds” hit the central provinces of Zambezia, Manica and Sofala, it added.

The cyclone, one of the strongest storms on record in the Southern Hemisphere, made landfall earlier on Feb. 6.

Although satellite data shows it appears to have stalled offshore, residents have taken precautions.

“The city is a no-go zone; no shops or businesses open. Everything is closed. We are locked in,” resident Vania Massingue said by phone from her home in the port city, located in the country’s central Zambezia province.

After spinning for 34 straight days, the weather system has probably broken the record for the longest lasting tropical cyclone.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, the previous record was held by a 31-day hurricane in 1994.

“I see houses with torn roofs, broken windows and flooded streets. It’s really scary,” says Massingue, who works for a local environmental organization.

A man walks as Cyclone Freddy makes landfall over Vilankulos, Mozambique, February 24, 2023 (File: Reuters)

State broadcaster TVM reported that the energy company had completely cut off the electricity as a precaution and that all flights had been suspended.

There were no direct reports of casualties.

The cyclone is moving slowly, which meteorological experts say meant it would absorb more moisture from the sea and bring heavy rainfall.

Around the world, climate change is causing hurricanes to become wetter, windier and stronger, scientists say. Oceans absorb much of the heat from greenhouse gas emissions, and when warm seawater evaporates, the heat energy is transferred to the atmosphere, creating more destructive storms.

More than 171,000 people were affected after the cyclone swept through southern Mozambique last month, bringing heavy rains and flooding that damaged crops and destroyed homes. OCHA estimated the death toll so far at 27 – 10 in Mozambique and 17 in Madagascar.

More than half a million people are at risk this time in Mozambique, particularly in the provinces of Tete, Sofala, Nampula and Zambezia.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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