Maputo, Feb 15, 2017 (AFP) - Mozambique braced for flooding, sea surges and evacuations on Wednesday as forecasters predicted a "formidable" storm system could become a tropical cyclone before it hits land later in the day. Severe Tropical Storm Dineo is now predicted to make landfall in the southern district of Massinga in the early evening, packing winds of about 130 kilometres (80 miles) an hour. The storm is "quite likely to undergo a final surge of intensification, just before arriving over land and there is a good chance that it will reach Tropical Cyclone status", the South African Weather Service said. It forecast torrential rain, widespread flooding and a marine storm surge, warning Dineo was "a formidable storm system which has the potential to cause much damage to coastal and inland infrastructure".
The Mozambique government's emergency response centre has issued an alert over the cyclone threat, and advised people to prepare food and water supplies and be ready to seek shelter. Some villagers could be displaced by flooding, forecasters said, while heavy rains will spread into eastern parts of South Africa on Thursday and Friday. Mozambique, one of the world's poorest countries, is often battered by flooding and storms. In 2000, floods claimed at least 800 lives, and more than 100 were killed in 2015. Scores have already died in the current rainy season, which began in October. The high death toll in 2000 triggered donor funding for relocations and improvements to water management infrastructure, early warning systems and emergency response resources.