Int'l community provides aid as death toll continues to rise in cyclone-hit Mozambique

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-25 19:59:18|Editor: Xiaoxia
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NAIROBI/BEIJING, March 25 (Xinhua) -- The death roll from Cyclone Idai in heavily hit central Mozambique has risen to 446 on Sunday while humanitarian relief from the international community is flowing into the African country.

"Yesterday we had 417 dead bodies, and today the toll rose to 446 deaths," Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development Celso Correia on Sunday told reporters from the emergency operations center at Beira in the coastal province of Sofala, where the cyclone caused landslides.

It is difficult to obtain data from isolated areas, he added, while the affected people, including the displaced and the marooned, are estimated at more than 531,460.

More than 109,630 people have been provided with temporary shelters. Road traffic has been restored in some areas, including on the No. 6 national road on Saturday to facilitate the access of aid, the minister said.

"The overarching priority in the coming weeks is to stem the outbreak of diseases such as cholera, malaria and other diseases," the minister further said.

At the request of Mozambique's government, China has dispatched a 65-member team to provide search and rescue support as well as medical and epidemic prevention assistance.

The tropical Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi in mid-March, causing floods and landslides. Search and rescue operations are continuing in the countries while humanitarian relief aid from countries and organizations are flowing into the affected areas.

In Zimbabwe, the death roll rose to 259 by Friday night and is feared to continue to rise with hundreds more injured and some 217 missing.

Zimbabwe had its eastern and southern areas mainly affected by the cyclone, and in the worst hit Manicaland Province, there were villages almost completely swept away. United Nations figures on Friday showed at least 16,000 families have been displaced in the country.

"There are fears the cyclone will return within days," Energy Mutodi, deputy minister of information, tweeted Saturday.

In landlocked Malawi, one death was reported from the cyclone that affected some 68,000 people.

Henrietta Fore, executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), on Saturday said, "We are in a race against time to help and protect children in the disaster-ravaged areas of Mozambique."

At the end of her visit to Beira, she said, "Aid agencies are barely beginning to see the scale of the damage."

The United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Friday the destruction caused by Cyclone Idai appears to be worsening, citing continued heavy rains and floods. UN refugee agency UNHCR's spokesperson Babar Baloch said the death roll in Mozambique "is expected to exceed 1,000."

"Every day we discover that the destruction left by Cyclone Idai is worse than we imagined," the ICRC statement quoted Hicham Mandoudi, the ICRC's head of a sub-delegation in Beira, Mozambique, as saying.

Preliminary results estimated that 200,000 people urgently need food assistance for the next three months in Zimbabwe, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).

The United Nations, the European Union, the United States, Canada, China and other organizations and countries have announced donations to the affected countries. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) said Sunday it has provided 500,000 U.S. dollars in aid to help Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe to deal with the cyclone's aftermath, noting the economic costs and social impact on the affected countries as well as on the entire region are immeasurable.

Of the aid, 200,000 dollars are for Mozambique, 150,000 dollars for Malawi and 150,000 dollars for Zimbabwe.

On Sunday, 39 tons in emergency humanitarian aid including tents, blankets and food from Morocco were airlifted to Beira, the official Moroccan news agency MAP reported.

Canada's emergency aid worth about 2.6 million dollars will be provided through the United Nations, Red Cross and non-governmental organization partners and will focus on meeting the immediate food, shelter, water, sanitation, health and protection needs in the three affected countries, the Canadian government's Global Affairs Canada has said.

The China International Development Cooperation Agency on Thursday said that China will provide humanitarian assistance to the three countries. The Chinese government has announced a donation of 800,000 dollars in cash for Zimbabwe. Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador Guo Shaochun has said the Chinese community in Zimbabwe has mobilized emergency aid worth about 310,000 dollars.

"On (last) Wednesday, 11 trucks fully loaded with those supplies including maize, cooking oil, bottled water, tents, quilts and blankets arrived in the disaster-stricken area and reached the people, who are in great need," Guo told reporters.