At least 24 dead as Cyclone Idai hits eastern Zimbabwe

Map of Mozambique

Current weather conditions are making it hard for the Zimbabwe National Army to rescue people in Chimanimani.

The World Meteorological Organization said that although the storm is now weakening, it has affected "tens of thousands" of people living there as heavy rain is expected to pelt the country over the next several days.

As many as 100 people are reportedly missing in Zimbabwe following a cyclone that has killed at least 24 people.

Two of the victims were students who died after a landslide sent a boulder crashing into their dormitory, collapsing the wall of the dining room and trapping 50 of them, the country's Department of Civil Protection (DCP) said in a statement.

Joshua Sacco, a member of Parliament in the eastern district of Chimanimani, told Reuters that the storm had left a trail of destruction reminiscent of Cyclone Eline in February 2000, which devastated southern Zimbabwe.

Others who fled their homes were "marooned" on top of a mountain waiting to be rescued, but strong winds were hampering helicopter flights, the ministry said.

"At least 25 houses were swept away following a mudslide at Ngangu township in Chimanimani urban".

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Jacob Mafume tweeted that there is a "serious humanitarian crisis" unfolding in eastern Zimbabwe districts. "There were people inside", he told the AFP news agency, saying they were listed as missing.

Authorities in Mozambique said heavy rains before the cyclone struck had already claimed the lives of 66 people, and displaced a further 17,000.

Heavy downpours in neighbouring Malawi this week have affected nearly a million people and claimed 56 lives there, according to the latest government toll.

The cyclone hit Mozambique with winds of up to 177km/h (106 mph). Roads were flooded and the airport was shut down. "Houses and trees were destroyed and pylons downed", an official at the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) told AFP.

The United Nations humanitarian office says a tropical cyclone has cut communications and electricity in a major city in central Mozambique after making landfall overnight.

"The runway is full of obstacles and parked aircrafts are damaged".

Power utility Eskom on Saturday bumped up rotational load shedding from Stage 2 to Stage 4 due to a shortage of capacity exacerbated by the loss of 900 MW from Mozambique Fin24 reported.

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