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Agencies continue relief efforts in cyclone-affected southern African countries

The United Nations says the storm is possibly the worst weather-related disaster ever to hit the southern hemisphere.

FILE: This handout picture taken and released on 18 March 2019 by the Mission Aviation Fellowship shows people on a roof surrounded by flooding in an area affected by Cyclone Idai in Beira. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - As the aftermath of the devastating Cyclone Idai continues to be felt in three southern African countries, relief agencies remain on the ground trying to assist locals.

The cyclone swept through Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

The United Nations says the storm is possibly the worst weather-related disaster ever to hit the southern hemisphere, with 1.7 million people in the path of the cyclone in Mozambique and 920,000 affected in Malawi.

The World Food Programme says storm surge floods up to six metres deep have caused “incredible devastation” over a huge area.

Relief agency Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman says their team remains in Mozambique trying to help as many residents as they can.

“The people we’ve spoken to and messages I’ve received directly, including from the Health Ministry in Mozambique, said the destruction is horrendous. The Health Ministry has said the biggest hospital is completely destroyed, they’ve seen thousands of community members for the last few days and they’ve no medical supplies.”

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi warned the death toll in his country alone could be as higher.

But Sooliman says the figure could potentially climb higher: “It’s probably going to be substantially more than that figure because strong, solid concrete buildings are badly damaged. What’s going to happen to mud houses and people in low-lying areas?”

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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