Seven dead as Cyclone Gombe hits Mozambique -president

Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi attends the 3rd Session of the South Africa-Mozambique Bi-National Commission (BNC) held at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation's (DIRCO) in Pretoria, South Africa, March 11, 2022. Kopano Tlape/Government Communication Information System (GCIS)/Handout via REUTERS

MAPUTO, March 11 (Reuters) - At least seven people died as Tropical Cyclone Gombe made early morning landfall in Mozambique on Friday packing wind speeds exceeding 200 kmh (125 mph) that pummelled north and central areas of the country, President Filipe Nyusi said.

The southern African country has been struggling to recover from a series of devastating cyclones that have killed scores of people and displaced thousands.

Nyusi, speaking to reporters during a visit to South Africa, said: "I have briefed President Ramaphosa on the Gombe tropical storm affecting Mozambique since 2 a.m. today. Seven people were killed across Nampula province due to fallen houses and other infrastructure (collapsing)."

He said the storm's initial damage was in Nampula in Mozambique's northeast. The World Meteorological Organisation said Gombe made landfall as an intense category-3 cyclone, predicting "devastating winds, rainfall and storm surge".

"Winds have weakened but the heavy rains bring a threat of flooding in Mozambique and southern Malawi for several days," the WMO said in a tweet.

According to the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, category 3 denotes cyclones with one-minute, maximum sustained winds of between 178 kmh and 207 kmh.

State broadcaster TVM and private channels aired footage showing fallen trees and poorly built clay adobe homes with roofs ripped off by fierce winds. Heavy rains were also causing flooding in low-lying areas, authorities said.

Tropical Storm Ana killed at least 88 people across southern and eastern Africa in January, the most recent severe storm to hit a southern African region where millions of impoverished people are facing volatile weather conditions blamed on rising temperatures and climate change. read more

Reporting by Manuel Mucari; editing by Wendell Roelf and Mark Heinrich

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