DANGER ZONE: One of the vehicles captured crossing the flooded Black Mbuluzi River connection to Mbelebeleni. (Pics: Simon Shabangu)
OWING to flooded rivers and damaged roads, pupils and teachers were unable to reach schools as Cyclone Dineo took charge from Wednesday night to yesterday.
Dineo affected the eastern and northern parts of the country leaving a trail of destruction on the roads.
However, it can be said that Dineo did not cause much damage as witnessed in Mozambique.
According to the Minister of Education and Training Phineas Magagula, a number of schools including Tsambokhulu, Mafucula Primary and High were temporarily closed.
“In some cases, head teachers had to turn back pupils who had managed to get to school,” he said.
Other schools that the minister did not mention but were affected by the cyclone include, Lufafa Primary school in northern Hhohho, Florence High School at Luve to mention a few.
The minister said today is a normal school day for all pupils in public schools, unless principals see a need to keep them at home.
He said there were no casualties reported to the ministry so far, however the rains have caused damage in some of the country’s roads.
He stated that the ministry will continue to monitor the situation even today.
“We cannot allow pupils to miss classes unless there are some new developments that might pose danger to them.”
He said his department will liaise with Swazi Met for an update until the end of business today.
Meanwhile, a certain principal of one of the northern Hhohho schools said he found himself with no alternative but to stay at home as he could not risk driving on the slippery and damaged road.
Most of the schools in the capital city released their pupils just before lunch yesterday as it was expected that the cyclone would start after lunch.
Dineo losing steam
ACCORDING to observations by the Swazi Met forecast office, Cyclone Dineo began to weaken as it entered the country yesterday, thus moving through the eastern and northern parts of the country.
When the cyclone moves over land, it is deprived of the warm water needed to power it.
Thus, it quickly loses its strength. Most dispersion of hurricanes comes quickly after the loss of their strength very rapidly after landfall. If it remains over mountains for even a short time, dissipation in hurricanes will continue and weakening will speed up.
Swazi Met Director Duduzile Masina- Nhlengethwa said when a cyclone moves inland, its strength weakens, but it can sometimes cause havoc if it is accompanied by strong destructive winds.
“The cyclone began to disperse as it travelled through the northern and eastern parts of the country yesterday. While we continue monitoring the situation, our signal points show a dispersing cyclone that changed its direction moving inwards to South Africa.”
She said the country will today continue receiving occasional rainfall until tomorrow morning.
“Currently, the winds are travelling at an average speed of 20-40 km per hour in some areas.”
She said they will continue issuing forecast updates to the public and monitor the situation closely. “Anything can occur overnight however. This may be in the form of strong rains and winds since it has not completely passed the country,” she said. She advised the public not to take chances crossing flooded rivers, but rather seek refuge in neighbouring homesteads.