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Cyclone Idai: 'Massive disaster’ hits Mozambique, Zimbabwe

BBC
Mozambique's government says 100,000 people need to be rescued from Beira
Mozambique's government says 100,000 people need to be rescued from Beira

Cyclone Idai has triggered a "massive disaster" in southern Africa affecting hundreds of thousands if not millions of people, the UN has said. The region has been hit by widespread flooding and devastation affecting Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.


Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi called it "a humanitarian disaster of great proportion". He said more than 1,000 people may have been killed after the cyclone hit the country last week.

Idai made landfall near the port city of Beira in Sofala province on Thursday with winds of up to 177 km/h (106 mph).
"This is shaping up to be one of the worst weather-related disasters ever to hit the southern hemisphere," Clare Nullis, from the UN's weather agency, told the BBC on Tuesday.

Christian Lindmeier from the World Health Organization, said: "We need all the logistical support that we can get." Mozambique's government said the confirmed death toll so far was 200, and 100,000 people needed to be urgently rescued near Beira.

An aerial survey of the province showed that a 50km (30 mile) stretch of land was under water after the Buzi River burst its banks, charity Save The Children said.

The governor of neighbouring Manica province, Manuel Rodrigues, says there is an urgent need to rescue people still trapped, the BBC's Jose Tembe reports from the capital, Maputo.

"It's very sad and very complicated, given what we saw when we flew over the area. We saw people besieged and asking for help," Mr Rodrigues told reporters. "They were on top of their roofs made up of zinc sheets. Others under flood waters. We saw many people”.

"We can only imagine that they had been there for more than two or three days, without food and without clean drinking water." In Beira, there are no basic services and people don't know what they're going to eat or where they're going to sleep.

Floods of up to six metres deep had caused "incredible devastation" over a huge area in Mozambique, World Food Programme regional chief Lola Castro said. At least 1.7 million people were in the direct path of the cyclone in Mozambique and 920,000 have been affected in Malawi, the UN said.

In Zimbabwe, at least 20,000 houses have been partially damaged in the south-eastern town of Chipinge, 600 others were completely destroyed. Local officials say they are distributing rice and maize from the national food reserve to those displaced.

In Mozambique, several aid agencies are assisting government efforts in the search and rescue operations and in the distribution of food aid, ReliefWeb reports.

The charity Télécoms Sans Frontières has sent a team to Beira to set up communication networks for humanitarian operations.

 


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