Tropical cyclone Eloise made landfall in Mozambique early on Saturday, hitting the coastal city of Beira with huge gusts of wind and heavy rains, but was losing strength as it progressed, a South African weather official said.
“Eloise made landfall around 2:30 a.m. in the morning with wind speeds of 160 kilometres per hour (kph)(99 miles per hour),” said Mbazhi Maliage, a forecaster at South African Weather Service.
Cars were submerged in water, walls of some low lying buildings collapsed and swathes of land were flooded in the city of Beira, posts on Twitter showed.
Power supplies were shut down as the cyclone damaged power lines and uprooted some electricity poles, a source at power utility EDM said.
Rains had now subsided and EDM was assessing the damage, the source said, while internet and telephone lines were also down in several coastal and inland districts around Beira.
The World Meteorological Organisation in a Twitter post said the cyclone had weakened to a tropical storm, and will bring heavy rains to parts of Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana.
Maliage said the storm was expected to weaken further as it enters northern parts of South Africa.
WMO late Friday had upgraded the storm, fuelled by the warm Indian Ocean waters of the Mozambique channel, to a tropical cyclone with strength equivalent to a Category Two storm.
Category Two strength – on five-level scale – refers to hurricanes with maximum wind speeds of 154-177 kph.
Around 3,000 people had been evacuated from Buzi district outside of the port city of Beira, Mozambique’s National Institute for Disaster Risk Management and Reduction (INGD) said in remarks broadcast on local television on Friday.
In March 2019 Beira was ravaged by Cyclone Idai which killed more than 1,000 people across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
Eloise will not be as bad as Idai but will still cause a lot of damage in Mozambique, Maliage said.
“By tomorrow, it will be an overland tropical depression. At that time the speed will be 60 kph,” she said, but added it will bring showers in South Africa’s northern provinces of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal from late afternoon.