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United Nations, Red Cross Mobilize Cholera Relief For Zimbabwe

The World Health Organization said Tuesday that a cholera epidemic ravaging Zimbabwe had claimed 565 lives with a total of 12,505 cases documented - though some local doctors said the United Nations death count was too low as many deaths were not officially recorded.

One physician speaking on condition of anonymity told VOA that 300 people have died at one clinic in the Mashonaland East district of Mudzi alone.

World Health Organization spokesman Paul Garwood told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that international organizations including the U.N. Children's Fund or UNICEF and the International Red Cross were mobilizing to ship medicines and other forms of relief into Zimbabwe to deal with what he called a "major" outbreak.

VOA Southern African Correspondent Scott Bobb reported from Johannesburg that UNICEF is launching a four-month emergency response in Zimbabwe due to the closure of hospitals, failing social services and the collapse of the country’s educational system.

Meanwhile, Vice President Thokozane Khupe of the Movement for Democratic Change wing led by prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai urged the Zimbabwean government to declare a state of emergency over the epidemic sweeping Harare's suburbs in particular.

Khupe touring hospitals in Harare on Monday and visited hospitals today in Messina, South Africa, where many Zimbabweans have sought medical treatment.

Khupe tells reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the country's medical situation is rapidly deteriorating.

Meanwhile Tuesday, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority restored water service to most parts of Harare, but residents said the water coming out of taps was filthy.

ZINWA cut water supplies to the capital Monday saying it had run out of chemicals needed to purify the water to ensure it would not spread the bacteria that causes cholera.

Despite the restoration of service in most areas, the usual trouble spots including Mabelreign, Greendale, Mabvuku and Ruwa remained dry.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...