Mozambique's president to speak to nation about cyclone

BEIRA, Mozambique (AP) — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi was to address the nation on Wednesday about how his government is responding to the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai, which has killed more than 460 people in his country and left 1.8 million people in need of urgent help.

Nyusi early last week estimated that 1,000 people had been killed by the cyclone after he flew over the vast, flooded plains of central Mozambique. The toll could be higher, said some emergency responders, who added that the actual figure may never be known. More bodies will be found as flood waters drain away.

Health workers were opening clinics across the hard-hit port city of Beira to try to reduce the deadly threat of cholera and other waterborne diseases. The World Health Organization has warned of a "second disaster" if such diseases break out.

Some people in Beira have resorted to drinking stagnant water by the side of the road, increasing the chances of diarrhea, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders said Wednesday. Other people are drinking from contaminated wells.

The aid group said it has seen hundreds of cases of acute watery diarrhea in the past few days.

"The scale of extreme damage will likely lead to a dramatic increase of waterborne diseases, skin infections, respiratory tract infections and malaria in the coming days and weeks," said Gert Verdonck, the group's emergency coordinator in Beira.

Hurried efforts continued to restore running water to Beira and its some 500,000 residents. The United Nations children's agency said parts of the city's water supply system were working again, with "water running in 60 percent of the pipes." The government also was operating water trucks.

Relief operations continued to explore ways to deliver aid to the city that has become the hub of humanitarian efforts but remains largely reachable only by air and sea. More challenging was reaching rural communities, some of them still without contact with the outside world.

More humanitarian actors arrived as the United Nations urges the international community to fund a $282 million emergency appeal for the next three months.

The U.N. refugee agency announced that its first aid flight had landed in the capital, Maputo, with plans to immediately transport the tents, mosquito nets and other items to Beira.

Two other flights are planned for Zimbabwe and Malawi this week.

The death toll in Mozambique is now at least 468, with 259 dead in Zimbabwe and at least 56 dead in Malawi.


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