Cyclone in southern Africa: more than 650 dead, risk of epidemics

Cyclone en Afrique australe: plus de 650 morts, risques d'épidémies

The balance sheet of the cyclone Idai Mozambique, and Zimbabwe has increased Saturday at 676 deaths and is expected to climb as the progress of the relief, which are struggling to reach areas still cut off from the world, to have prevented the humanitarian, concerned about the risk of disease outbreaks.

“It is a natural disaster without precedent. The affected area (Mozambique) is approximately 3,000 km2. A disaster that is equivalent to major disasters,” said Saturday, the mozambican minister of the Environment, Celso Correia.

“Unfortunately, no one in the region nor in the world could predict a disaster of such magnitude”, he added, from Beira (centre), the second largest city in Mozambique, partially devastated by the weather.

According to the last balance-sheet of the mozambican authorities, Idai, who swept last week in southern Africa, has been 417 deaths in Mozambique, the country most affected.

In Zimbabwe, 259 people have been killed and almost 200, including 30 schoolchildren, are still missing.

But the final toll will be “much higher” since “many regions are still inaccessible,” said Saturday, the executive director of Unicef, Henrietta Fore.

“The situation will get worse before they get better”, she warned. “Humanitarian agencies are only beginning to see the extent of the damage. Whole villages have been submerged, buildings razed, schools and health centres destroyed,” she added.

Rescue operations and delivery of aid, with helicopters, military vessels, dinghies, fishing continued Saturday in difficult conditions, given the collapse of many roads and bridges.

“We did nothing, people died like goats or chickens. There was no help. We are dying of hunger”, to implore an inhabitant of the district of Buzi (centre), one of the most affected in Mozambique.

“I’m alive, but I lost everything”, said Maria Maposa, evacuated by boat from this area.

Saturday morning, a hundred survivors of Buzi arrived at the port of Beira, where they received soup and clothes, found an AFP journalist.

Many of them were in need of care after having been wounded by a plate raised by wind gusts of close to 200 km/hour.

In total, approximately 2 million people who are affected by the cyclone and flooding in southern Africa.

– Risk of disease –

“There are more people stuck in trees,” said Saturday, Sebastian Stampa of the Office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs (Ocha).

But “there are still people on the roofs,” who refused to be deployed by helicopter, he added, explaining that they survived by drying of the food on the plate or roof terraces.

The recession continued Saturday. But Ocha has warned of possible new floods in case of heavy rains.

In Beira, a city of half a million inhabitants, the population endeavouring to clear away and rebuild.

Electricity was gradually being restored in some neighborhoods. The hospital has again been connected to the network, according to Celso Correia.

The main road that leads to Beira should be available Sunday and the track is re-usable since Friday, “which means that the aid can reach more easily,” he rejoiced.

The inhabitants have begun to rebuild with the means of the edge of the plate curled blown away by the wind, the makeshift dwellings.

In several schools of the city requisitioned, thousands of survivors were crammed, leaving the fear of epidemics.

“The promiscuity in the shelters, the lack of hygiene, stagnant waters, and infected pose a risk of diseases such as cholera, malaria and diarrhoea,” said Unicef.

Conflicting information circulating about possible cases of cholera.

The world food programme (Wfp), which distributes food, has raised its emergency level 3, equivalent to the crises in Yemen, in Syria or in South Sudan

“Tens of thousands of people have lost everything. With the extent of the damage is accurate, the number of people in need increases. We must do more,” said the spokesperson for the Wfp, Herve Verhoosel.

In Zimbabwe, the survivors continued this weekend to bury their dead, while 120 bodies have been washed away in Mozambique, according to Ocha.