On Saturday, 23 March, the death toll from the African Cylcone Idai crossed 700 in total from Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, with thousands more affected by diseases as a result of the storm.
BBC reported that the number of people declared dead in Mozambique rose from 242 to 417, quoting Land and Environment Minister Celso Correia.
CNN News 18 reported Correia as saying, “We are living an unprecedented natural disaster. A disaster that only matches major disasters.”
The report added that at least 259 people were killed by the storm in Zimbabwe, while in Malawi 56 people died when heavy rains hit ahead of the cyclone.
The United Nations has said that official casualty figures can only be declared post the receding of the flood waters.
Tropical cyclone Idai battered central Mozambique on Friday, 14 March, cutting off more than half a million in Beira, one of the country’s largest cities. It then moved inland to Zimbabwe and Malawi.
Rescue efforts are now in their second week.
UN Warns of More Flooding
The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Saturday, 23 March, that the Buzi and Zambezi rivers in Mozambique were at risk of breaking their banks again, reported the BBC.
The UN amplified call for help in Mozambique, CNN News 18 reported, as several aid agencies struggled to control the damage and assist the tens of thousands of people affected.
"‘The situation will get worse before it gets better. Aid agencies are barely beginning to see the scale of the damage, entire villages have been submerged, buildings have been flattened, and schools and health care centers have been destroyed.’" - Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, as quoted by AFP
The report added that the World Food Programme late Friday night declared the flood crisis a level three emergency on Friday, 22 March. This puts it at the same level with crises in Yemen, Syria, and South Sudan.
"‘The designation will accelerate the massive operational scale-up now underway to assist victims of last week’s Category 4 cyclone and subsequent large-scale flooding that claimed countless lives and displaced at least 600,000 people.’" - WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel as quoted by AFP
Diseases from the storm are also rampant, with cases of cholera being recorded in Beira, reported the BBC.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) also recorded an increase in malaria cases, and warned of other outbreaks. Doctors without Borders added that infections like pneumonia might occur.
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