Speaking to state Radio Mozambique, Nyusi said Monday that although the official death count is now 84, he believes the toll will be more than 1,000. "It is a real disaster of great proportions".
Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi says that more than 1,000 may have by killed by Cyclone Idai, which many say is the worst in more than 20 years.
"We need state intervention on a massive scale to avoid biblical disaster", he said. Villages had disappeared, he said, and bodies were floating in the water.
"The biggest threat we have now, even bigger than the cyclone, is floods", warned the governor of Sofala province, Alberto Mondlane.
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Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who cut short a visit to Abu Dhabi, said on arrival on Monday, "we are deeply grieved as a nation". The cyclone first hit Mozambique with winds up to 106 miles per hour, then moved westward into Zimabwe and Malawi, destroying homes, schools, businesses and police stations.
A major cyclone the equivalent of a strong Category 2 hurricane approached the coast of Mozambique late Thursday, prompting residents to brace for what weather authorities have called a likely "worst case scenario".
But giving a weather update, director of Climate Change and Meteorological Services Jolamu Nkhokwe said the change in direction of the Tropical Cyclone Idai was triggered by low pressure systems from South Africa which made it to slide southwards in place of the original northwards track.
March 15, NASA's Terra satellite provides images of Tropical Cyclone Idai after landfall in Mozambique. Nonetheless, it remained powerful enough to wipe out infrastructure and homes, leaving many people stranded in inaccessible regions in the country's eastern highlands.
Zimbabwe's military is trying to rescue the 197 students at the school, although unsafe conditions are forcing the soldiers to use ground efforts rather than attempt an air rescue, the government's Ministry of Information said. The cyclone knocked out electricity, shut down the airport and cut off access to the city by road.
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A large dam burst on Sunday and cut off the last road to Beira, he said.
Some citizens started crowdfunding on Twitter to help those affected while the government sought assistance from individuals, private companies and worldwide aid agencies.
Briefly.co.za gleaned that some citizens attempted to flee the storm by escaping to higher ground but helicopters can not reach those stranded atop hills and mountains due to the violent winds and relentless rain.
A United Nations humanitarian agency stated that some 5.3 million people will require food aid after the storm, Al-Jazeera reported.
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