Maputo/Dar es Salaam - A strengthening tropical cyclone north-west of Madagascar is headed for the coasts of Mozambique and Tanzania, weather authorities and the UN warned on Wednesday.
The Tanzanian Meteorological Agency (TMA) said that Cyclone Kenneth would make landfall overnight packing winds of about 80 kilometres per hour, which were "capable of causing extensive damage."
Tanzania's southern regions of Mtwara and Lindi, near the border with Mozambique, were likely to be most affected by the cyclone after it makes landfall, the agency said.
People living up to 500 kilometres from the coast should take precautions, the TMA said.
Authorities in Mtwara told dpa that all schools have been ordered to stay closed on Thursday, and that public servants were asked to stay home and prepare for cyclone-related developments.
Earlier in Mozambique, Augusta Maita, director of the National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC), told a media briefing that evacuation orders were in force in the country's northern Cabo Delgado Province, just across the border from Tanzania.
The government had declared an alert and that "all measures will be implemented to save lives," she said. "We will make sure that people are evacuated today, even if it means forced evacuation," she said.
Evacuation helicopters and boats being used in Beira further south - as part of relief efforts after a previous cyclone hit in March - will be relocated to Cabo Delgado, she said.
Malawi could also experience increased rainfall when Kenneth hits.
The cyclone is expected to impact the Comoros islands on Wednesday and make landfall on the African mainland on Thursday, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.
More than 700,000 people - mainly in Cabo Delgado - are living in the cyclone's path, OCHA said.
In March, Cyclone Idai caused massive flooding, killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands in Mozambique.
Aid agencies warned of the cumulative impact the two storms could have.
"We are especially concerned about [Cyclone Kenneth's] possible impact in Mozambique where communities are still recovering from the devastation of Cyclone Idai," said Fatoumata Nafo-Traore, regional director for Africa for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.dpa