HARARE – Zimbabwean towns and villages were bracing for “catastrophic” floods even after forecasters downgraded the cyclone Dineo status to a tropical storm, with heavy winds and rain battering Mozambique’s coastline yesterday.
A deluge of up to 200mm of rainfall yesterday lashed Inhambane — 470km northeast of Maputo on the coast of Mozambique — after Dineo landed on Wednesday.
However, the strong winds have died down from 120 kilometres per hour, to 80 kilometres per hour in Mozambique.
Dineo was expected to dissipate in Musina and Beitbridge today and drift towards Botswana by Saturday, forecasters said.
Local communities still remain vulnerable to torrential rain and flooding.
“Beware of dangers of strong winds and floods from Cyclone Dineo and save lives. In case of emergency dial 112,” the Civil Protection Unit said in its warning alerts.
Thousands of local people are at risk as the devastating storms and floods approach which the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) warns could leave a trail of destruction, especially in the three provinces which are set to be hardest hit.
The MSD said that tropical Cyclone Dineo was approaching Matabeleland South, Masvingo and Manicaland, where heavy winds and torrential rains were expected to pound towns and villages in these provinces till Monday.
“The areas likely to be impacted most are Masvingo and Matabeleland South provinces, as well as the southern areas of Manicaland Province.
“The MSD is closely monitoring the situation and will issue another alert as soon as the level of significance warrants it. Tropical cyclones are preceded by very strong and damaging winds, followed by extreme flooding,” meteorologist Chenai Sithole said.
Zimbabwe experienced its worst floods in living memory in 2000 when Cyclone Eline left a trail of destruction in Manicaland, where more than 136 people were killed and 59 184 houses and huts were damaged.
Apart from the loss of human life and property, 230 dams also burst, leading to severe flooding which led to the deaths of more than 20 000 head of livestock.
The Daily News learnt yesterday that officials in the three provinces were frantically trying to mobilise resources and institute mitigatory measures — including roping in security services and other government agencies.