A man carries his children after Cyclone Idai at Praia Nova, in Beira, Mozambique, March 23, 2019.
A man carries his children after Cyclone Idai at Praia Nova, in Beira, Mozambique, March 23, 2019.

GENEVA - The U.N. children’s fund reports nearly half of the 1.7 million people affected by Cyclone Idai in southern Africa are children. The official number of deaths across the region has now risen to over 700. But this figure is expected to increase once the waters have receded and the bodies of those who have drowned and gone missing are found.

Conditions in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe remain critical. Thousands of people are still trapped by the flood waters, many huddled on rooftops and in trees waiting to be rescued.

An aerial photo shows a damaged factory following the devastating Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique, March 23, 2019.
Cyclone Death Toll Rises in Africa

The United Nations says the combined death toll in southern African nations affected by Cyclone Idai has exceeded 700.

More than 400 of the deaths have occurred in Mozambique were aid groups are struggling to assist tens of thousands of people of the ground.

Mozambique Minister of Land and Environment Celso Correia said the situation "is still critical, but it's getting better." He said some 1,500 people were in need of rescue from rooftops and trees and about 89,000 people had packed into displacement camps.

 Zimbabwe and Malawi are also struggling to deal with the aftermath of the cyclone

The U.N. children’s fund reports the situation for hundreds of thousands of children caught up in this monumental storm is particularly dire. It says many do not have adequate shelter and are in urgent need of food and safe drinking water.

UNICEF spokesman, Christophe Boulierac says children are particularly susceptible to infectious diseases.

“Without safe and effective water, sanitation and hygiene services, children are at high risk of preventable diseases including diarrhea, typhoid and cholera, and also increasingly vulnerable to malnutrition,” he said.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies reports cases of cholera have been confirmed in the city of Beira in Mozambique, the epicenter of the cyclone. It warns the risk of outbreaks of malaria, water-borne and infectious diseases is high due to the prevailing conditions.

Kids scrape for remaining rice inside a pot at a displacement center in Beira, Mozambique, March 22, 2019.
Aid Workers in Africa Challenged by Aftermath of Cyclone Idai

Aid workers were confronted with chaos and pleas for help Friday in Mozambique as receding waters allowed them access to storm-stricken areas a week after Cyclone Idai swept through the southern African region.

The death toll is expected to soar as more bodies are discovered. Workers from relief agencies have voiced surprise over the gravity of the damage inflicted by the storm and subsequent flooding.

More than 600 deaths have been confirmed in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. The Mozambican government said it expects the figure to rise to 1,000 or more.

UNICEF reports many schools and hospitals have been destroyed or damaged or are being used as collective shelters. As a consequence, thousands of children are unable to go to school. It says it is crucial for children to go back to the classroom as soon as possible.

Officials explain many children are suffering from physical and emotional distress. They say school provides them with a structure and a sense of normalcy that can help them better deal with their anguish in this time of extreme chaos.