Cyclone heads to Mozambique tourist area and Madagascar

MAPUTO, March 13 (Reuters) – The tropical cyclone that has lashed parts of Mozambique, killing 10 people, is expected to hit the southern tourist region of the country before gathering speed on its way to Madagascar, authorities said on Thursday.

Cyclone Jokwe struck ferociously last Friday, displacing 55,000 people, destroying electricity pylons and uprooting trees in the northern Nampula province.

“It is too dangerous for shipping. It is now over the Mozambique channel on its current course and is likely to strike both Mozambique and Madagascar again,” Mussa Mustafa, head of the National Institute of Meteorology, said in an interview.

He said the cyclone was headed for the southern provinces of the country and would make landfall in Madagascar on Monday.

Tourism operators in the southern Mozambique’s district of Vilankulo are bracing themselves for the high-speed cyclone.

Ray Monson, manager of Casa Rex lodge, told Reuters he was preparing for the storm to avoid being caught off guard.

“We are monitoring the cyclone and keeping our clients updated, it is still far from here but anything can happen, this time we are more prepared than before”, he said by telephone.

In February last year, Cyclone Favio killed 10 people, destroyed infrastructure in the area and shut down businesses.

Earlier this week, the director of Mozambique’s National Institute of Disaster Management said Jokwe with its 200 mph winds was more dangerous than Favio. Jokwe has already killed 10 people and has not yet crossed the entire region.

The mayor of Vilanculo, Sulemane Amugi, said the town was taking the necessary steps to avoid unnecessary destruction.

“We are alerting tourists operators particularly those on the beach side to stay clear of the sea on Friday. We have also instructed fishermen not to go into the waters, but we are hoping that it will loose strength before reaching the coast.” (Editing by Phumza Macanda and Mary Gabriel)

Thu 13 Mar 2008, 14:59 GMTSource: Reuters

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