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Survivors of Cyclone Idai, arrive to an evacuation centre in Beira, Mozambique, March 21. Denis Onyodi/Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre/Handout via Reuters
There are about 60,000 people in the flood-stricken central Mozambican province of Sofala who are stranded on rooftops or in trees, awaiting rescue, according to a report in Thursday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”.
Sofala was hit a week ago by tropical cyclone Idai. But Idai dumped much of its water on Zimbabwe, and it has now flowed back into Mozambique along the main rivers, particularly the Buzi and the Pungoe, causing additional severe flooding.
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Of particular concern is Buzi town, much of which has been under water since Sunday. Without food or clean water, people have crammed onto Buzi rooftops hoping that boats or helicopters will rescue them.
“O Pais” reports that there are now 11 helicopters based at Beira airport flying rescue missions. An operations centre has been set up at the airport. Also involved in the emergency operations are two light aircraft, 15 boats, two frigates (offshore), eight trucks and 30 satellite phones.
In Mozambique, only four helicopters to try save thousands of people in a flooded area half the size of New York City. https://t.co/X9Fy5G1lay
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— Ann Campbell (@annie_cam) March 21, 2019
The satellite phones are key for communications, since the cyclone knocked down dozens of cell phone masts across the central provinces, and none of the three mobile phone providers have so far been able to restore normal levels of service.
As of Wednesday night, some 40,000 people had been rescued in Sofala, and 36,000 of these are being assisted in 96 accommodation centres.
Beira remains in critical condition. The cyclone knocked out the city’s electricity supply, and this means no power is available to drive the pumps for the water supply system.
Many Beira residents are drawing water from open, unprotected wells. This water is not safe to drink, unless it is treated first – but reporters found that, since they have no access to water treatment chemicals, people are drinking it untreated, leading to fears that there will soon be an outbreak of water-borne diseases.
Beira Central Hospital suffered severe damage from the cyclone, but the stories circulating that new born infants died in the storm are untrue. The nursery and the incubators were successfully evacuated, and there were no deaths among either babies or pregnant women.
Health Minister Nazira Abdula told reporters that 20 health units were damaged by the cyclone, but the health service has enough stocks of medicines to attend to the current emergency needs.
“The roof was blown off the Sofala regional medical stores”, Abdula said, “but we managed to move most of the undamaged medicines to safe places, and we are resupplying the health units with these medicines”.
“We have strengthened our medical teams, because the number of patients has increased”, she said. “So far, we can guarantee that we have all the necessary medicines and medical material in stock”.
Meanwhile, a claim by the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, that 444 people died in the floods in Zambezia province has been denied. The figure was supposedly mentioned in a briefing of parliamentarians given by the provincial governor, Abdul Razak.
However, a spokesperson for the Assembly, cited by the Bloomberg agency, said the figure was a typing mistake, and that the real Zambezia death toll was just four. Yet, as of Thursday evening, the inaccurate figure was still on the parliamentary website.Source: AIM