By Ali Amir Ahmed
MORONI (Reuters) – Violent winds of up to 140 kph lashed the East African island nation of Comoros overnight, killing three people, authorities said on Thursday, as tropical Cyclone Kenneth swept towards flood-battered Mozambique and southern Tanzania.
The region was pounded by Cyclone Idai last month; the storm and subsequent flooding killed more than 1,000 people in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.
Kenneth may bring winds of up to 200 kph and torrential rain to Mozambique, Tanzania and Comoros, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction said on Twitter on Thursday.
In Comoros, the winds intensified around 9 p.m. on Wednesday, causing widespread power outages in the capital Moroni and on the other two main islands of the archipelago, Anjouan and Ngazidja, residents said.
By Thursday morning, fallen trees and debris from homes lined streets and roofs of some houses had been torn off, a Reuters witness said.
Three people were killed in the storm and several others injured, said President Azali Assoumani in a news conference.
“The damage is significant,” he said.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies published photos from Comoros of fallen trees and telephone lines and wrote that “homes and roads are damaged and destroyed”.
In Moroni, a small number of taxis moved around the centre of the city on Thursday morning and policemen and soldiers were deployed to remove debris and trees from blocked roads. Government offices and schools were closed.
Cyclone Kenneth is expected to make landfall on Mozambique’s coast on Thursday, threatening to flood areas where more than 70,000 people live, according the National Directorate for the Management of Water Resources.
The directorate broadcast warnings that people living in areas at risk should move immediately to higher ground as aid agencies prepared for an emergency.
Authorities in Mozambique’s northern neighbour Tanzania have ordered evacuations of residents from low-lying areas and the closure of some schools and offices before the cyclone hits.
Cyclone Idai lashed Mozambique’s port city of Beira with wind speeds of up to 170 kph on March 14 and heavy rains prompted flooding which submerged entire villages. Mozambican health officials and international aid agencies have been battling cholera in the wake of the cyclone.
(Reporting by Ali Amir Ahmed; Writing by Elias Biryabarema and Alison Williams)