The hundreds of thousands of people affected by Hurricane Idai in southern Africa are now threatened by an “inevitable” epidemic of water-borne diseases, including cholera, warned authorities who have again reviewed the balance sheet on Sunday , to more than 700 dead.
In Mozambique, the worst-hit country by Idai, which hit southern Africa on March 14, “the death toll has unfortunately increased,” Environment Minister Celso Correia said.
“Yesterday (Saturday), we had 417 dead and today we are at 446 dead” because “we received information from areas that were previously isolated,” he added from the city of Beira ( center), partially devastated by the cyclone.
In neighboring Zimbabwe, catastrophic floods and landslides have killed at least 259 people, according to the UN, and nearly 200 missing, including 30 schoolchildren.
“The balance sheet should rise again since previously isolated areas are now accessible,” warned Sunday the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCH).
With the ongoing recession, relief efforts continued to provide food distribution and road reconstruction.
But the Mozambican government and aid workers were also anticipating the emergence of water-borne diseases, given the stagnant water and promiscuity in the shelters.
– Devastated – (AFP – Yasuyoshi CHIBA)
“It is inevitable that cases of cholera and malaria will appear,” said Minister Correia, adding that “a cholera treatment center” was set up.
The Red Cross announced Friday the first cases of cholera in Mozambique, but the United Nations and Maputo said they have not, for the time being, registered.
“There will be waterborne diseases,” warned Sebastian Rhodes-Stampa of the Ocha. “But if (…) we have centers already in place, we will be able to handle the situation,” he added.
– Nightmarish logistics –
Cyclone victims Idai receive food at a school in Beira, Mozambique, on March 23, 2019.
(AFP – WIKUS OF WET)
Nearly two million people are affected by the cyclone and its floods in southern Africa.
In Mozambique, more than 100,000 people found shelter in emergency shelters, including schools.
In Beira, the survivors are scrambling to get food and clothing, while the Red Cross is trying to reunite members of families dispersed.
“I do not know where my husband is,” testifies Beira Celeste Dambo, rescued by a fishing boat in Buzi, one of the most affected districts.
She sleeps on the floor, with her three children, in the gymnasium of the Samora Machel school in Beira.
Ten days after the hurricane, the “logistics” to access the missing and channel aid “remains a challenge,” says Ocha.
At least 80 percent of Dondo's electrical infrastructure, some 30 kilometers northwest of Beira, is damaged, according to the government. Beira, home to half a million people, remains partially without electricity.
But the repairs to the only road that allows access to the city and was partially washed away by the waters have just been completed.
In Beira Saturday evening, some streetlights were lit. The streets were cluttered again, a sign that life was regaining its rights. The few restaurants open were full.
– Mass in the night –
Priests pray on March 23, 2019 during a Mass at the Ponta Gea Cathedral in Beira, Mozambique, deprived of electricity by Cyclone Idai.
(AFP – WIKUS OF WET)
In the Ponta Gea Cathedral, which miraculously survived the weather, a Mass was celebrated in tribute to the victims, with a single torch and a few candles.
“People do not know what to do because they have lost their homes, they do not know where to sleep (..) But Mozambicans are not going to let down,” Pedro said.
In the assembly, a faithful looked at his missal in the light of his cellphone.
Children walk past homes damaged by Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique, on March 23, 2019.
(AFP – WIKUS OF WET)
“We can not be bereaved, we have to continue, we are trying to rebuild our city,” said another believer, 19-year-old Wilfried Deliviai.
Survivors took advantage of the recession on Sunday to rebuild their homes with the means on board.
In Buzi, where hundreds of people sleep outside, in the street or on rooftops, a woman tried, water up to the knees, to recover a sheet for her shelter. Others swept houses where the water had reached one meter.