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Intense Tropical Cyclone Funso (08S) Causing Tragedy in Mozambique

22.3S 39.9E

January 28th, 2012 Category: Tropical Cyclones

Intense Tropical Cyclone Funso (08S) - January 24th, 2012

Enhanced image

On January 17, RSMC La Reunion started to monitor an area of low pressure that had developed within the Mozambique Channel about 620 km (365 mi) to the northwest of Antananarivo, Madagascar. Over the next two days the area of low pressure rapidly developed further in an area of favourable conditions.

During the overnight hours of January 18, a ship carrying 54 people sank on its way from Anjouan to Mayotte amidst rough seas produced by Funso. At least 15 passengers drowned while dozens remain missing.

Early on January 19, RSMC La Reunion declared the disturbance Tropical Depression 08, shortly before the JTWC also initiated advisories and declared the depression “Tropical Cyclone 08S” as it became equivalent to a tropical storm. Later that day the Malagasy national weather service named the storm Funso before early the next day as it continued to intensify quickly, RSMC La Reunion declared that Funso had intensified into a tropical cyclone.

Due to land interaction, Funso weakened slightly on January 22-23, but soon reintensified into an intense tropical cyclone as it started heading south. Although the core of the storm remained offshore, over three million people were affected by tropical storm-force winds. On January 23 national television in Mozambique announced 12 deaths in the northern Zambezia Province, following the intense cyclone’s passage close to land. Seven of the fatalities occurred in the Maganja da Costa District and one was in the provincial capital Quelimane. More than 5000 people were displaced by the weather conditions and the only road connecting the capital Maputo to the north was reported to be seriously damaged when the Komati River flooded its banks, cutting off the capital city. At least 70,000 people were without a clean drinking water supply following the storm, and more than 56,000 were left homeless in Mozambique.

Authorities in Malawi were concerned about the fate of more than 450 families that lost their homes in the southern Nsanje District due to the effects of Funso, which mostly affected Bangula and Phokela, as three rivers overflowed. Heavy rains destroyed more than 320 houses and flooded 125 more and local crops were devastated, leaving whole communities at risk of starvation.

Funso strengthened a little more on January 24, the day this image was captured, as it continued to move southward slowly. On January 24 the death toll in Mozambique jumped to at least 25 as government officials were trying to reach the hardest-hit areas in the northern Zambezia province. Authorities confirmed that they expected the numbers to rise even further.

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