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THE Meteorological Services Department (MSD) says it is closely monitoring Cyclone Freddy, which has been tearing across the Indian Ocean since developing off the Australian coast late last week.
The cyclone’s eye is currently ploughing the ocean north of Mauritius and Reunion, driven by winds of over 200 kilometres per hour as it heads straight for southern Madagascar and is expected to make landfall on mainland Africa south of Mozambican port city of Beira late this week.
In mainland southern Africa, Cyclone Freddy is anticipated to trigger heavy rains in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
Weather experts have said Zimbabwe is likely to be hit by Cyclone Freddy.
MSD head of forecast, James Ngoma said the department was closely monitoring the developing weather event and would have a more informed position today.
“We hope to see what happens when it reaches Madagascar. Hopefully by Tuesday the picture may be clearer,” Ngoma said.
Yesterday, the Department of Civil Protection (DCP) also warned communities to desist from crossing flooded rivers amid rising cases of people being swept away.
Manicaland, which has been mostly affected by tropical storms, is on high alert after experiencing devastating effects of Cyclone Idai in 2019, which left a trail of destruction.
Hundreds of people lost their lives, particularly in Chipinge and Chimanimani.
Head of DCP in Manicaland, who is also provincial development coordinator, Edgar Seenza yesterday said: “We are on high alert as usual and we are in the process of identifying evacuation centres. We learnt our lesson after Cyclone Idai, and we don’t want to take chances.”
Since the rains started, there have been numerous cases of people being swept away by the rain in, for instance, Matopo, Bindura and other places.
DCP director Nathan Nkomo said people should take warnings seriously and not cross flooded rivers.
“We have been sending messages since the start of the rain season; it’s unfortunate that people do not heed these warnings. People should take warnings seriously and listen to local leaders because it makes me so angry that people cross these flooded rivers knowing that water is dangerous, especially fast flowing water,” Nkomo said.
Matopo district development coordinator Obey Chaputsira said plans were afoot to fix bridges in the area, which will allow the standard flow of water. He said they were waiting for funds.
“There have been plans to upgrade the Maphisa-Bulawayo Highway but we are waiting for the disbursement of funds,” he said.
On Thursday last week, 63-year-old Nhlanganiso Tshuma drowned in Mabonyane River near Maphisa Growth Point, Matobo district in Matabeleland South province while attempting to cross the flooded river.
Matabeleland South police spokesperson Inspector Loveness Mangena confirmed the incident.
In Bindura, eight people died in January in the Masembura area, after being swept away by flooded rivers. _*NewsDay*_