Rescue focus shifts to health risks

2013-01-28 00:00

CHOKWE — The death toll from flooding in Mozambique climbed to about 40 yesterday after four more bodies were discovered in the worst-hit southern town of Chokwe, while the number of people forced to flee has topped 100 000.

“They found four bodies in the last 24 hours,” the town’s mayor, Jorge Makwakwa, said, adding that Chokwe’s flood-ravaged streets were littered with rotting animal carcasses.

“I am mobilising workers to remove the bodies, but we need masks and gloves,” Makwakwa added.

According to a toll from the United Nations on Friday, the severe flooding in the impoverished country had killed at least 36 people, most in the southern province of Gaza.

The floods, which have also hit South Africa and Zimbabwe, are the result of days of torrential rains this month that swelled the Limpopo River.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) said yesterday that the number of people forced to flee their homes in the Limpopo valley had reached 108 000.

About 23 000 families have sought shelter in camps in Gaza, and the UN World Food Programme has begun feeding some 75 000 ­flood­affected people, said the United Nations.

Unicef said it had set up three field hospitals and was broadcasting radio messages urging locals to take basic hygiene measures to ward off diarrhoea and cholera.

While the Limpopo River started to recede in Chokwe yesterday, the 9 000 residents who had stayed behind were in urgent need of clean water and food, mayor Makwakwa said, as a major clean-up operation got under way.

While some tried to salvage what they could and laid their possessions out to dry, others walked through the streets inebriated, having helped themselves to alcohol in flood-damaged stores, an AFP reporter on the scene said.

With relief efforts focused on the camps, some locals said they were struggling to get their hands on emergency supplies.

In the village of Guija, children said they had had no water or food since Wednesday, while a doctor said two mothers had given birth on rooftops after they were marooned by the rising waters.

Mozambican authorities were also scrambling to protect the partly inundated coastal tourist city of Xai-Xai on the Limpopo River, where some 45 000 people were thought to be at risk from the deluge, said Rita Almeida, a spokesperson for Mozambique’s Disaster Relief Management Institute.

She added that helicopters would be dispatched to try to rescue those stranded by the floodwaters.

“Our biggest priority is to reach the people [who have taken refuge] in trees,” she said.

— Sapa-AFP.

AT least six SA Air Force Oryx helicopters are involved in rescuing and supporting people trapped in floods in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Mozambique.

Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga, senior air force spokesperson, said yesterday that the Oryx helicopters and medical as well as support crew were involved in the rescue operations in Mozambique.

Divers from the SA Navy have also been called up.

Mabanga said the operations were generally proceeding well, but there was concern over two rivers that had burst their banks.

“The attendant health problems pose grave risks.”

He said the rescuing of people in trees and off rooftops was coming to an end, but the focus was now to supply clean water, food and other necessities of life to people who were left stranded by the floods.

— Own Correspondent.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.