GENEVA - United Nations and international aid agencies are rushing food, medicine and other emergency relief supplies to hundreds of survivors of Tropical Cyclone Idai, which struck Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
Aid agencies say the full horror and impact of this cyclone, the worst to hit east-southern Africa in nearly a decade, will only emerge in the coming days. Many areas in Mozambique remain cut off because of the floodwaters. This makes it difficult to provide assistance to the victims and to fully assess the damage and needs.
There are no accurate figures on the number killed, but Mozambique's president said it could be as high as 1,000.
A team from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society reached the Mozambican city of Beira on Monday. It described the damage as massive and horrifying, with 90 percent of the buildings damaged or destroyed.
IFRC spokesman, Matthew Cochrane, said extensive flooding is causing enormous distress. He said flooding in some parts is as deep as six meters, covering roofs, palm trees and telephone poles.
"The reports from the assessment that went out yesterday, which was government and U.N., where people were huddled on rooftops, huddled on trees, desperately looking for someone to come and support them," he said. "Obviously, search and rescue is the major priority, but soon after that is shelter.Again, 400,000 people at least have been displaced or made homeless."
The Red Cross is issuing a $10 million flash appeal for emergency aid to the cyclone victims.The World Food Program reports it is rushing food and other assistance to large numbers of desperate people stranded by the rapidly rising flood waters in Mozambique.It says the humanitarian emergency is getting bigger by the hour.
The U.N. Children's Fund also is issuing a flash appeal for $23 million to help many of the 260,000 children affected by the disaster.The World Health Organization warns of looming water-borne diseases, such as typhoid, cholera, diarrhea and malaria from stagnant water.
WHO said it is sending emergency kits, trauma kits, and cholera kits to take care of the immediate health needs of the people on the ground.