Cyclone Jokwe hits Madagascar, heads to Mozambique

MAPUTO (Reuters) - Tropical cyclone Jokwe is expected to lash northern Mozambique on Saturday after sweeping through parts of Madagascar, a meteorological official said.

Mussa Mustafa, head of Mozambique’s National Meteorological Institute, said the cyclone’s force would likely be strongest near the port of Nacala, which suffered severe floods in January and February.

But he said the risk of renewed flooding was small because the rains would hit coastal areas and flow into the ocean.

Tens of thousands of people in Mozambique were forced to flee their homes earlier this year in what the United Nations said could be the worst floods in memory, engulfing farmland and wrecking roads and bridges.

Mustafa said swirling winds of around 100 kph (62 mph) were clipping the northern tip of Madagascar and heading towards the Mozambique Channel at increasing speed.

“Cyclone Jokwe is currently in Madagascar moving towards Mozambique and it will influence the weather in Mozambique, particularly maritime navigation,” he told Reuters.

“There will heavy rains as of tomorrow in the northern regions of the Nampula province (and) the districts of Mogincual and Angoche are likely to be struck on Saturday when the cyclone makes a landfall with a wind speed of 140 kph,” he added.

Last month Cyclone Ivan smashed Madagascar, killing more than 80 people and leaving over 200,000 homeless, but lost steam before striking Mozambique.

Reporting by Charles Mangwiro; Editing by Mark Trevelyan