Mozambique death toll from Cyclone Idai rises to 417

Earlier this week, Minister Celso Correia quoted the figure at 217.

A mother and her baby leave the Central Hospital of Beira after Cyclone Idai swept through the city. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

BEIRA/JOHANNESBURG - The Land and Environment Ministry in Mozambique says the death toll caused by Cyclone Idai has now risen to 417.

Earlier this week, Minister Celso Correia quoted the figure at 217.

The minister said while the condition in the country had improved, the situation remained critical.

Mozambique was rocked by the devastating Cyclone Idai last week, leaving a trail of destruction as it swept past the port city of Beira.

While rescue efforts are underway, it is feared that the death toll may rise as some areas became completely inaccessible due to flooded roads and damaged infrastructure.

The city of Beira’s hospital, schools and houses have all suffered severe damage.

GALLERY: Cyclone Idai leaves Mozambique in limbo

SANDF LENDING A HAND

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) stationed in Mozamique said people were still being rescued from treetops and rooftops.

Along with the United Nations and Gift of the Givers, the SANDF is taking relief supplies to those stranded on higher ground.

Rainfall has hindered operations causing the situation to get worst, with more heavy rainfall and winds still hitting the already battered country.

The SANDF ‘s Brigadier General Khoase said: “This is heavy because bridges have been destroyed so the focus of the main effort is to assist those displaced in the villages and take them to the higher area to provide them with shelter, food and medication.”

International relations minister Lindiwe Sisulu is expected to visit the country this weekend.

RELIEF EFFORTS

As relief efforts continue in Beira, the Gift of the Givers said local farming communities were helping aid organisations.

The latest casualty account indicates that more than 600 people have died in both Mozambique and neighboring Malawi.

The Gift of the Givers’ Ahmed Bham said his teams continued to source supplies locally for relief efforts

He says more doctors will be arriving on Sunday to assist those who are in need of help.

Bham says ground teams desperately need emergency supplies.

Relief efforts are to continue throughout if the weather allows.

SAVING LIVES THE MAIN OBJECTIVE

The United Nations said saving people’s lives is the main objective for rescue teams and government

Rescue teams have departed with helicopters while planes are being used to locate people who are in need of rescuing

The United Nations’ Sebastian Rhodes Stampa said: “Search and rescue operations will continue by boat and helicopter. We have winchmen who have been lifting people from tree and rooftops, getting to isolated communities and getting them to land where they will be safe.”

Stampa said flooding remains a concern if there’s more rainfall or if the water from dams is released too quickly.