Heavy goods vehicles have been stopped on the main road for transporting goods from the port of Beira, Mozambique, to Zimbabwe and other countries in the interior of Southern Africa, due to Cyclone Freddy related rains, the authorities announced.

The rising flow of the Pungué river washed away the foundations of National Highway Number 6 (EN6) near Mafambisse and one of the carriageways collapsed, with the water current seeping under the asphalt and threatening the rest of the road.

“There is an imminent cut” in the road, said Bernardete Roque, administrator of Dondo district, which borders the city of Beira.

“The waters swelled in such a way that they pierced the [base of the] road to pass through,” Roque explained.

At the moment, the “preliminary decision to stop the circulation of large-tonnage vehicles” that make up the bulk of daily traffic on that corridor had been taken.

Circulation had been limited to light vehicles until a contractor called to the site managed to restore the support of the road platform, Roque added.

In Mútua, also on the EN6, the Pungué river flooded the road, washing away three vehicles, including a heavy goods vehicle, after they had stopped to assess traffic conditions. All the occupants successfully escaped.

The city of Beira and surroundings, in Sofala province, was hit by heavy rainfall in the last 24 hours, as often happens in the October-April rainy season.

In Beira itself, several informal neighbourhoods are already flooded, driving residents out of their homes, saving what they could carry through the chest-high water.

The area is on alert for the effects of Tropical Storm Freddy which, although it is expected to hit the Mozambican coast 250 kilometres further south, could bring more heavy rain in the coming days.

The current rainy season in Mozambique has already caused 95 deaths and badly affected around 100,000 people, according to the latest official data.