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At least 89 dead in Zimbabwe as Cyclone Idai leaves trail of destruction

At least 89 dead in Zimbabwe as Cyclone Idai leaves trail of destruction

Cyclone Idai in Zimbabwe took lives of at least 89 people, Reuters reported on Monday. The natural disaster tore across Zimbabwe’s eastern and southern parts, the local officials say the body count is expected to rise. 

A Zimbabwean government official confirmed the death toll from Cyclone Idai, saying that it could be higher in the coming 24 hours. Many families cannot bury the dead due to the floods. The powerful Idai has created a humanitarian crisis in a nation grappling with economic woes and a drought.

The Cabinet has declared a state of disaster in areas affected by the storm, the worst to hit the country since Cyclone Eline, which has devastated Zimbabwean eastern and southern regions in 2000.

On Monday morning, the rescuers are struggling to reach people in Chimanimani, that district has been cut off from the rest of the country by torrential rains and winds of up to 170 km per hour that swept away roads, homes and bridges and knocked out power and communication lines. Many local people have been sleeping in the mountains since Friday after their homes were flattened by rock falls and mudslides or washed away by torrential rains.

In Chimanimani, a scale of destruction is only becoming apparent as rescuers reach the most affected areas, near the border with Mozambique, said the local authorities.  As Nick Mangwana, the Secretary for Ministry of Information, wrote: “The number of confirmed deaths throughout the country is now 89.”

According to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) spokesperson, “Tropical Cyclone Idai…has compounded destructive flooding that has already occurred as far inland as southern Malawi and eastern Zimbabwe.” Hervé Verhoosel added that WFP has been stepping up preparations to meet large-scale assistance needs.

People in the affected areas should be very attentive to the status of their health, said Christian Lindmeier, a WHO spokesperson. He cautioned that multiple dangers remain following the flooding. The cyclone Idai comes with the rains, you have of course the risk of drowning and trauma injuries through the flooding. In addition, flooding increases the risk of waterborne diseases’ activation.