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Cyclone Idai: ‘15,000 people still need to be rescued’

Media caption“It has become an inland sea”

Some 15,000 people still need to be rescued from the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai, Mozambique officials say.

The cyclone victims there are stranded by catastrophic flooding and are clinging to roofs or stuck in trees, charities say.

In the port city of Beira, aid workers say there is only two to three days of clean water left.

Some 300 people are confirmed dead in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, but the toll is expected to rise.

With shortages of food and clean drinking water the threat of disease is growing, medical agencies warn.

The powerful cyclone swept in to Beira last Thursday, with winds of more than 177km/h (106 mph). It left a trail of devastation as it moved inland across Zimbabwe and Malawi.

“The first thing you see when you arrive is destruction and a lot of water,” said Get Verdonck, an emergency co-ordinator with the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Image copyright
AFP

Image caption

Rivers burst their banks flooding vast areas around Beira

“People are using well water with no chlorination, and that water is unlikely to be clean… pneumonia and other respiratory diseases are going to be a problem,” he told Reuters from Beira.

Aid groups said Mozambique had borne the brunt of flooding from rivers that flow downstream from neighbouring countries. A total of 217 people are confirmed dead in the country but many areas have still not been reached.

Caroline Haga, an official with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said the worst-hit areas were close to the Buzi river west of Beira.

She said rescue teams were dropping high-energy biscuits, water purification tablets and other supplies to people surrounded by water and mud.

“We have thousands of people… in roofs and trees waiting for rescue,” Ms Haga told AFP news agency.


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“We are running out of time. People have been waiting for rescue for more than three days now. We can’t pick up all the people so our priority are children, pregnant women, injured people.”

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AFP

Image caption

Desperate people carried away sacks of rice from this warehouse in Beira

Deborah Nguyen, of the World Food Programme (WFP), said the priorities were reaching people trapped in the flooded areas and then organising temporary shelter for those rescued.

“Relief operations are progressing, but there is still a lot of work,” she told AFP.

Mozambique President Felipe Nyusi has said more than 100,000 people are at risk.

What has happened elsewhere?

In Zimbabwe, at least 98 people have died and 217 people are missing in the east and south, the government said.

In Malawi, the UN says more than 80,000 people have been displaced by the cyclone.

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Cyclone Idai: ‘15,000 people still need to be rescued’

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