Cyclone in southeast Africa kills nearly 150 people

The African nations of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi have been hit by a cyclone that has killed nearly 150 people, left another 150 missing and stranded tens of thousands of others who are cut off from roads and phones in mainly poor, rural areas.

Hardest hit by Cyclone Idai is Mozambique’s port city of Beira, where the airport is closed, electricity is out and many homes destroyed.

In total, thousands are marooned and have abandoned their homes and possessions to seek safety on higher ground.

UN agencies and the Red Cross are helping with rescue efforts by trying to deliver food and medicine by helicopter.

The dead include two students who were among dozens trapped in a school dormitory after rocks fell from a nearby mountain.

Zimbabwe’s military is trying to rescue the 197 other students at the school. But conditions do not allow for an air rescue, the government’s ministry of information said.

Roads and bridges have become impassable, slowing rescue efforts.

“We are receiving tragic reports of some people being swept away. We urge patience as rescue is on its way,” Zimbabwe’s information ministry said in a tweet.

But power cuts and communications breakdowns in affected areas means the warning might reach just a few.

Some 31 people have been killed by Idai-related floods in Zambia, officials said.