April 23, 2019

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Death Toll in Africa Climbs Past 600 After Cyclone

Death Toll in Africa Climbs Past 600 After Cyclone
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With the flooding easing in parts of cyclone-stricken Mozambique on Friday, fears are rising that the waters could yield many more bodies. The confirmed number of people killed in Mozambique and neighboring Zimbabwe and Malawi climbed past 600.

Eight days after Cyclone Idai struck southeast Africa’s Indian Ocean coast, touching off some of the worst flooding in decades, the homeless, hungry and injured slowly made their way from devastated inland areas to the port city of Beira, which was heavily damaged itself but has emerged as the nerve center for rescue efforts.

“Some were wounded. Some were bleeding,” said Julia Castigo, a Beira resident who watched them arrive. “Some had feet white like flour for being in the water for so long.”

Elhadj As Sy, secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said the relief efforts so far “are nowhere near the scale and magnitude of the problem,” and the humanitarian needs are likely to grow in the coming weeks and months.

“We should brace ourselves,” he said.

Helicopters set off into the rain for another day of efforts to find people clinging to rooftops and trees.

Pedro Matos, emergency coordinator for the World Food Program, said rescuers are sometimes spotting “just a hut completely surrounded by water.”

With water and sanitation systems largely destroyed, waterborne diseases are a growing concern.

“The situation is simply horrendous. There is no other way to describe it,” Mr. As Sy said after touring camps for the displaced. “Three thousand people who are living in a school that has 15 classrooms and six, only six, toilets. You can imagine how much we are sitting on a water and sanitation ticking bomb.”

The death toll in Mozambique rose to 293, with an untold number of people missing and the mortuary at Beira’s central hospital already reported full. Deaths could soar beyond the 1,000 predicted by the country’s president earlier this week, Mr. As Sy said.

The number of dead was put at 259 in Zimbabwe and 56 in Malawi.



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