By Tunde Niyi-Akinmade
A week after a cyclone devastated Southern Africa and triggered devastating floods that have killed hundreds of people and displaced hundreds of thousands, rescue and aids workers on Thursday battled to save more survivors from trees and roofs to safety as well as provide some measure of succour to those still alive.
In Mozambique, Celso Correia, the Land and Environment Minister , revealed that the death toll in the country has risen to 217 and around 15,000 people, many of them very ill, still need to be rescued. Rescue workers continue to find bodies and the toll could rise sharply.
“Our biggest fight is against the clock,” Correia told a news conference, adding that 3,000 had so far been rescued.
In neighbouring Zimbabwe, the death toll has gone up to 139. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), which is coordinating food drops, said 200,000 Zimbabweans would need urgent food aid for three months. In Malawi 56 people were confirmed dead.
“This is a catastrophe… Cyclone Idai has destroyed so much in an instance and it will take years for people to recover what they have lost,” said Edgar Jone, country director in Mozambique for the Christian aid charity , Tearfund.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has hinted about the possibility of the U.S. military teams joining the cyclone rescue effort in Mozambique.
“The Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) will be mobilized. A military aircraft is in Maputo. The US Embassy is requesting approval to mobilize military teams to support rescue operations,” a USAID representative stated at Wednesday humanitarian meeting.