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Last Updated: Friday, 23 February 2007, 00:18 GMT
Cyclone Favio strikes Mozambique
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A tropical cyclone has struck central Mozambique with strong winds destroying homes, causing blackouts and injuring at least 20 people, officials said.

Cyclone Favio made landfall in the central province of Inhambane, near the town of Vilanculos, and is heading north towards the city of Beira.

Winds reportedly hit 170mph (270km/h) and there are fears of flooding.

Mozambique is still struggling after floods left an estimated 120,000 people homeless earlier this month.

The category-four storm tore through the tourist town of Vilanculos, damaging homes, the town court and prison and uprooting trees.

Roads were also blocked by heavy rainfall.

"I can't do anything because all the roads have been blocked by falling trees and it's even impossible to try and rescue the people whose homes have been hit because there is no access," Sulemane Amugy, the town's mayor, told Reuters.

Travel warning

"It's dangerous for people. They have to close their windows, doors and they have to look for safer places and avoid being under trees," said Helder Sueia from the meteorological office.

"[Favio] is a category four cyclone... It's a very strong cyclone."

The cyclone is expected to lose much of its power over land, but the fear is that heavy rainfall may add to severe flooding in Mozambique, says the BBC's Adam Mynott.

A farmer and refugee from the Zambezi River floods carries reeds as he wades through water in Caia, northern Mozambique (file picture)
There are fears Favio's heavy rainfall may add to severe floods

The Mozambican authorities are on high alert, and thousands of volunteers are on stand-by to help move people to the relative safety of communal buildings, such as schools and churches.

The UK's Foreign Office has advised against all travel to the tourist islands around Bazaruto, as well as low-lying coastal areas.

The cyclone passed through Bazaruto but there is no word yet of its effect there. There have also been storms as far south as Xai Xai.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Of course people should live by rivers. It's where the fertile soil is
Mark, New York

The government in Mozambique has been praised for its response to the recent crisis, says the BBC's southern Africa correspondent Peter Biles.

It has been far better prepared than it was seven years ago when hundreds of people lost their lives during the worst floods in the country's history.

Experts tracking the expected path of Cyclone Favio over the past week think it is unlikely to badly affect the flooded areas around the Zambezi river, but they emphasise that cyclones are highly unpredictable.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
High winds and rain batter Mozambique



SEE ALSO
Should people live by rivers?
22 Feb 07 |  Africa
In pictures: Mozambique floods
19 Feb 07 |  In Pictures
Country profile: Mozambique
28 Apr 05 |  Country profiles

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