Panafrican News Agency

UPDATE: Cyclone Idai: 300 feared dead in Zimbabwe

Harare, Zimbabwe (PANA) - At least 300 are feared dead from category three storm, Cyclone Idai, which ravaged eastern Manicaland Province in Zimbabwe from late last Thursday through to Sunday.

This is significantly higher than the 98 confirmed dead so far, but non-governmental organizations assisting in the disaster relief efforts had earlier warned that that number could significantly rise.

“We understand there are bodies which are floating. Some are floating all the way into Mozambique; as you know Rusitu is near Mozambique and we hear that the residents of Mozambique have been calling some of our people saying we have seen bodies here,” said Local Government minister July Moyo in briefing with journalists at a late day cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

“We believe those bodies are coming from Zimbabwe. The total number, we were told they could be 100, some are saying they could be 300.”

The hardest hit area in the Manicaland Province is the Chimanimani District, where indications are rife that most of the dead came from there.

Besides the deaths, 217 people are missing, 102 injured, and 42 have so far been marooned with rescue efforts currently underway being led by Zimbabwe National Army in support of funding and other aid support from non-governmental organizations.

The potential increased number of the dead in Zimbabwe comes as Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi said more than 1,000 people may have been killed after the cyclone hit his country last week.

In Malawi, 56 are said to have died from Cyclone Idai.

United Nations (UN) humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock announced late on Tuesday that US$20 million from the United Nations’ Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) had been allocated to ramp up the humanitarian response to Tropical Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

“The CERF funds will complement the three Governments’ immediate efforts to provide life-saving and life-sustaining assistance to affected communities, including in health, food security, protection, nutrition and education,” Under- Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said.

“Vulnerable groups such as children, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, people with disabilities, and those affected by chronic illnesses will be prioritised.”

The bulk of the funding will kick-start the response in worst-hit Mozambique.

According to the UN, an estimated 1.7 million people were in the path of the cyclone in Mozambique.

Meanwhile, World Food Programme spokesperson Herve Verhoosel told journalists in Geneva, in addition to the 920,000 people affected in Malawi and “thousands more” were impacted in Zimbabwe.

Cyclone Idai entered Zimbabwe from Mozambique, after destroying the coastal city of Beira, late last Thursday night and wreaked havoc till Sunday in the eastern Manicaland Province.

With winds of up to 170 km/hr and heavy rains causing flooding, Cyclone Idai left a trail of destruction in the Manicaland Province destroying roads, bridges, houses, cars, and other property.

-0- PANA TZ/MA 20March2019