Unusually severe storms that swept across southern Africa hit Mozambique hard on Monday evening, with local media outlet and NGO employees reporting injuries and fatalities in the city of Maputo.
The storms arrived as Rwandan President Paul Kagame was in Mozambique for two-day meetings with President Filipe Nyusi, including a state banquet at Ponta Vermelha State House.
Strong winds, destructive hail and heavy rains also hit the adjacent city of Matola and the village of Boane. Officials were still assessing the extensive damage and had no official statement early Tuesday.
Images taken in the storm’s wake show crushed and overturned vehicles, damaged buildings and downed trees. A video taken at the height of the storm, provided by Jornal a Verdade, shows vehicles stopped in traffic as lightning flashed and wind-driven rain blew past them.
Tom Bowker, an editor with Zitimar News, tweeted that he experienced “what I think is the worst storm I’ve seen in Maputo,” while others described their surprise at the storm’s ferocity and said they had witnessed catastrophe.
Hail damage also was reported, with large hailstones measured in parts of South Africa and Swaziland before the storm headed northeast into Mozambique. Weather warnings from South Africa said the powerful storm had been going on for five hours before it headed into the Mozambican capital.
“At this moment many families suffer from the consequences of the storm that struck Maputo a few hours ago,” said Stewart Sukuma, a musician and social activist living in Maputo. Sukuma’s social media post added an appeal for support and his hopes for the city’s recovery.
While the return of the rainy season is a welcome sign to those in severe drought, and regional weather service officials had forecast rain, the full impact of these storms did not appear to be anticipated.
Image: Weather Watch SA