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Update: 20 March, 2019 10:37 AM
Death toll from Mozambique, Zimbabwe floods exceeds 300

Death toll from Mozambique, Zimbabwe floods exceeds 300

Photo/Getty Images

The death toll from a cyclone that smashed into Mozambique and Zimbabwe rose to more than 300 on Tuesday as rescuers raced against the clock to help survivors and the UN led the charge to provide aid.

"We already have more than 200 dead, and nearly 350,000 people are at risk," Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi announced, while the government in Zimbabwe said around 100 people had died but the toll could be triple that figure, reports AFP.

The UN, meanwhile, said that one of the worst storms to hit southern Africa in decades had also unleashed a humanitarian crisis in Malawi, affecting nearly a million people and forcing more than 80,000 from their homes.

Four days after Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall, emergency teams in central Mozambique fanned out in boats and helicopters, seeking to pluck survivors from roofs and treetops in an inland sea of floodwater, sometimes in the dead of night.

Air force personnel from Mozambique and South Africa were drafted in to fly rescue missions, while an NGO called Rescue South Africa said it had picked up 34 people since Friday night, using three helicopters.

"It is the only way to access the people that are stranded," Rescue SA's Abrie Senekal told AFP, saying the NGO was trying to hire more helicopters.

- 'Like a tsunami' -
Ian Scher, who heads Rescue SA, said the helicopter teams were having to make difficult decisions.

"Sometimes we can only save two out of five, sometimes we drop food and go to someone else who's in bigger danger," he said.

"We just save what we can save and the others will perish."

In Nhamatanda, some 60 kilometres (40 miles) northwest of Beira, 27-year-old Jose Batio and his wife and children survived by climbing onto a roof. But a lot of their neighbours "were swept by the water," he said.

"Water came like a tsunami and destroyed most things. We were prisoners on the roof," he told AFP after they were rescued by boat.

The city of Beira, Mozambique's second largest city and a major port, was immediately cut off after the storm. According to the Red Cross, the cyclone damaged or destroyed 90 percent of the city of half a million people.

President Nyusi, speaking on Tuesday after attending a cabinet meeting in the ravaged city, said the confirmed death toll stood at 202 and nearly 350,000 were "at risk."

The government declared a national emergency and ordered three days of national mourning, he said.

"We are in an extremely difficult situation," Nyusi said, warning of high tides and waves of around eight metres (26 feet) in the coming days.

On Monday, Nyusi had said he feared more than 1,000 had died and more than 100,000 people were in danger.

- Zimbabwe toll -
The storm also lashed eastern Zimbabwe, leaving around 100 dead, a toll that could be as much as 300, local government minister July Moyo said after a cabinet briefing.

"I understand there are bodies which are floating, some have floated all the way to Mozambique," he said.

"The total number, we were told they could be 100, some are saying there could be 300. But we cannot confirm this situation," he said.

At least 217 others are missing and 44 stranded, officials said.

Worst hit was Chimanimani in Manicaland, an eastern province which borders Mozambique. Families started burying their dead in damp graves on Monday, as injured survivors filled up the hospitals, an AFP correspondent said. Military helicopters were airlifting people to Mutare, the largest city near Chimanimani.

The storm swept away homes and bridges, devastating huge areas in what Defence Minister Perrance Shiri said "resembles the aftermath of a full-scale war".

Some roads were swallowed by massive sinkholes, while bridges were ripped to pieces by flash floods.

সম্পাদক : ইমদাদুল হক মিলন,
নির্বাহী সম্পাদক : মোস্তফা কামাল,
ইস্ট ওয়েস্ট মিডিয়া গ্রুপ লিমিটেডের পক্ষে ময়নাল হোসেন চৌধুরী কর্তৃক প্লট-৩৭১/এ, ব্লক-ডি, বসুন্ধরা, বারিধারা থেকে প্রকাশিত এবং প্লট-সি/৫২, ব্লক-কে, বসুন্ধরা, খিলক্ষেত, বাড্ডা, ঢাকা-১২২৯ থেকে মুদ্রিত।
বার্তা ও সম্পাদকীয় বিভাগ : বসুন্ধরা আবাসিক এলাকা, প্লট-৩৭১/এ, ব্লক-ডি, বারিধারা, ঢাকা-১২২৯। পিএবিএক্স : ০২৮৪০২৩৭২-৭৫, ফ্যাক্স : ৮৪০২৩৬৮-৯, বিজ্ঞাপন ফোন : ৮১৫৮০১২, ৮৪০২০৪৮, বিজ্ঞাপন ফ্যাক্স : ৮১৫৮৮৬২, ৮৪০২০৪৭। E-mail : [email protected]