Update (March 25, 2019): The death toll stemming from Cyclone Idai has reached astronomical amounts, with more than 750 people across three African nations estimated to have perished in the Category 2 disaster. The Philadelphia Tribune reports 446 people have lost their lives in Mozambique, while 259 are deceased in Zimbabwe and Malawi.
According to CNN, approximately 110,000 people have been moved to camps, and more than 500,000 civilians are distressed as a result of the March 15 storm.
“We are monitoring the situation on the ground,” Mozambique's Land and Environment Minister Celso Correia said on Sunday.
As workers scramble to clear debris such as uprooted trees and overturned street light fixtures, The Guardian reports fears of cholera and malaria outbreaks are on the rise.
“We will have cholera, we will have malaria. It’s unavoidable in this situation, so the government is opening a cholera treatment centre already,” Correria added.
The BBC reports rescue efforts have been particularly difficult in Mozambique where the storm made landfall in the city of Beira on Thursday. The country's president said that Idai destroyed 90 percent of the town. As rains and flooding continue to restrict rescue efforts, officials estimate more than 15,000 citizens of Beira are awaiting rescue.
"They are alive, we are communicating with them, delivering food, but we need to rescue them and take them out,” said Correia.
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Charity workers say the thousands of cyclone victims are stranded on rooftops and even in trees, attempting to hold out until rescuers can retrieve them. Aid workers say there are only two to three days worth of clean water left in the city, making matters more dire.
Officials in Beira fear what they will find once they reach areas currently inaccessible. Leaders also aren't sure what the damage is like under submerged areas; famine relief group Oxfam reports an area of approximately 1,864 square miles is still entirely under water.
Even once water issues are solved and reconstruction begins, the UN estimates 400,000 Mozambique residents will be displaced. In Malawi, it is estimated 82,000 citizens will be uprooted. Zimbabwe, which is struggling with mudslides as well as flooding, reports it has nearly 200,000 people in immediate need of food, water and shelter.
However, a United Nations representative said daily advancements are helping philanthropic groups reach more displaced individuals.“Every day the water recedes we reach more people. Every day the roads open we have better access and we can deliver at more volume and that is the important thing here,” reported Sebastian Rhodes Stampa of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The World Food Programme believes the country will need substantial assistance for three months at best.
The United Nations now believes Cyclone Idai to be worse and has said the storm could soon be recognized as the most horrific natural disaster ever to hit the southern hemisphere.
Original: Following the landfall of a cyclone in Mozambique, officials are fearful that the death toll may rise to over a thousand.
The BBC reports Cyclone Idai landed at 177 mph near the city of Beira on Thursday before continuing toward neighboring countries Malawi and Zimbabwe.
Idai brought torrential floods and extreme winds that affected all devastated areas for nearly four days straight, only recently subsiding. People have found refuge in trees, shelters, schools and among neighbors.
A large dam in Beira was breached on Sunday. Water from the breach blocked the last open road into the city. Currently, the only way in or out of the area is by air, making rescue and recovery efforts incredibly difficult. First responders trapped inside said they fear that the areas outside of the city may be even more devastated than the city itself.
If those areas are, that would mean they have been wiped off the map. Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi toured Beira on Monday and said the city was 90 percent destroyed, Al Jazeera reports. Nyusi told the public he saw an immense human toll, as well, including bodies floating by him as he moved around the city.
"Everything indicates that we could register more than 1,000 deaths," Nyusi said.
Mozambique's government believe at least 1,500 people have been injured by trees, debris, buildings and other infrastructure.
Destruction can be seen 200 miles away from Beira. In Malawi, 42 persons have been declared dead. The government of Zimbabwe reported 98 deceased and nearly 217 missing persons to the east and south.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe has declared a state of disaster. His citizens are grappling with mudslides, washed out roads, crumbled homes and a lack of power and phone service. Many rural areas in Zimbabwe, such as the small towns near Mutare, have yet to be reached due to raging waters cutting off land access.
The New York Times reports similar flooding has endangered lives in Malawi where the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said people “are now facing a second threat of flash floods.”
The region has not been hit with such a devastating disaster since 2000 when Cyclone Eline made landfall, leaving more than 1,000 people dead.
The IFRC has issued a call for aid as has the United Nations, which estimates 5.3 million people will require substantial assistance with food, water, healthcare and sanitation.
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