As Zimbabwe prepares for two days of mourning following the devastating Cyclone Idai, rescue workers said on Friday they have recovered 145 bodies from a town in Zimbabwe.
“The actual number of the death toll remains unknown, but we
have recovered 145 bodies in Chimanimani alone,” Zimbabwe Army public relations officer Exavier Chibasa told dpa, naming the town by the border to Mozambique, where thousands more are feared dead after massive flooding.
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday declared
two days of mourning at the weekend, saying that the death toll will likely reach several hundred as the search for more bodies continue.
Local government minister July Moyo said that some bodies swept away by the cyclone have been washed away to the Mozambique side of the border.
“Authorities from Mozambique have alerted us of bodies floating on their side and we have sent our teams to recover them,” he said. Acting Information Minister Sekai Nzenza said that the cyclone was
so severe that an entire township was buried in huge boulders.
Nzenza said 30 pupils and two headmasters are among the people who
are missing following the floods.
Thousands more are meanwhile believed to have fallen victim in neighbouring Mozambique where flooding caused by the massive cyclone left a 125-kilometre lake in an area where hundreds of thousands of people live.
The death toll there has risen to 242 while more than 1,400 are missing, Mozambican Environment Minister Celso Correia told Radio Mocambique on Thursday.
“Devastatingly small amounts of people” remain to be rescued, according to Ema Batey, one of the main organizers for rescue work in Mozambique, adding that no more survivors were being found on roofs and trees.
“Until the waters recede I don’t think we’re going to have a true picture,” of the impact of the cyclone, said Batey, a coordinator for a consortium of NGOs including Care Oxfam and Save the Children.
Cyclone Idai, a Category 4 storm, could be one of the biggest cyclone disasters south of the equator, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and has brought devastation to several countries in the region.