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The death toll from cyclone Idai in central Mozambique rose to 48, according to numbers updated by Mozambican authorities on Saturday.
The deaths are mainly due to the collapse of homes and other infrastructure and drowning, according to state television, citing a source at the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC).
The city of Beira, one of the largest in the country with half a million inhabitants, was hit the hardest by the cyclone and at its central hospital more than 400 people have been assisted since Thursday night, according to a hospital source.
The provincial capital is partially destroyed, it is still without electricity from the public grid and communications are limited. The same scenario occurs in other parts of the province, hindering relief operations.
The victim count is yet to be completed, as there are places which are difficult to reach due to rising river levels.
One of them, the Haluma River, has overflowed its banks, cutting off national highway 6, the backbone of central Mozambique and the main access road to Beira, leaving the city isolated, since the city’s airport is inoperative due to damage since Thursday.
On Thursday and Friday Mozambique saw the second largest storm of the cyclone season which, at at the beginning of each year, threatens the country. At least 15 people already dead between March 6 and 13.
The United Nations estimates that there are now 600,000 people affected in central and northern Mozambique, whether they have been left homeless, without food or other property, or with no access to farmland and basic services.
More than a third of the affected population is made of children, estimates the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The main problems for humanitarian assistance of various entities on the ground include the difficulty in reestablishing communications and access to the affected areas.