Storm Eloise kills at least 12, with more rain to come

25 January 2021 - 13:03 By Reuters
Residents of the Praia Nova neighbourhood seek shelter from tropical cyclone Eloise in Beira, Mozambique, on January 23 2021.
Residents of the Praia Nova neighbourhood seek shelter from tropical cyclone Eloise in Beira, Mozambique, on January 23 2021.
Image: UNICEF/Franco/Handout via REUTERS

The death toll from tropical storm Eloise rose to at least 12 on Monday, according to figures from authorities across southeastern Africa, where heavy winds, rain and flooding have also destroyed buildings and crops.

A tropical cyclone when it made landfall at Mozambique’s central province of Sofala on Saturday, Eloise subsequently weakened to a tropical storm as it moved inland to dump rain on Zimbabwe, eSwatini, SA and Botswana.

View of the damage after tropical storm Eloise hit Beira, Mozambique, on January 23 2021 in this social media image.
View of the damage after tropical storm Eloise hit Beira, Mozambique, on January 23 2021 in this social media image.
Image: REUTERS

Six people were killed in Mozambique, the country’s National Institute for Disaster Risk Management and Reduction reported, while the number of displaced people rose to more than 8,000. Homes, crops and infrastructure were also damaged, flooded or destroyed.

The death toll from flooding in eSwatini now stands at two, according to police, while three people had been reported killed in Zimbabwe and one in Madagascar. Ongoing rains, though lightening, threatened further floods.

“Rainfall is starting to ease off slowly,” said Puseletso Mofokeng, senior forecaster at the SA Weather Service.

“However, we are going to continue with the possibility of flooding [in SA] because the ground is already oversaturated,” he said, adding this meant any amount of rainfall could prompt floods but these would likely be localised rather than widespread.

Zimbabwe’s national water authority warned that dams were spilling over and could cause floods further downstream.

In central Mozambique, Eloise exacerbated existing floods, with villages and vast swathes of farmland submerged in brown water after rivers burst their banks.

Rainfall in Zimbabwe runs down into Mozambique via those rivers, which contributed to the devastating floods following Cyclone Idai in March 2019.

Mofokeng said Eloise is expected to move towards southwestern Botswana tomorrow, where it will cause heavy rain. More downpours are also expected in SA in the coming days.

LISTEN | The worst is over, but SA should remain cautious – SA Weather Service

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