20 March 2019

South Africa: Cyclone Idai Aftermath - Gift of Givers Intensifies Rescue Operations

Disaster relief organisation Gift of the Givers says rescue operations in Malawi are going well.

The country, along with Zimbabwe and Mozambique, have been battling with the effects of flooding after Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique last week.

Gift of the Givers' teams are distributing essential supplies to seven out of the 11 affected districts in the southern region of Malawi.

On Monday, Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi said more than 1 000 people may have by killed in the aftermath of the cyclone, which has been described as the worst in more than 20 years.

Gift of the Givers founder, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, said the organisation was working with the Malawi Defence Force to help affected no-go areas.

"God willing, we aim to deploy water rescue teams, rescue equipment and boats to Zimbabwe tomorrow (Wednesday). We are awaiting final 'release' for some of the personnel from duty," said Sooliman.

Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique on Thursday night before moving to Zimbabwe.

Dozens have died in Malawi.

In Zimbabwe, eastern Chimanimani district was worst hit. Flash floods washed away houses and bridges when the storm slammed the area.

Sooliman said a private company in Zimbabwe had offered the organisation six helicopters, two planes, pilots, four boats and 20 ambulances. It also committed to assist with the costs.

He added that Mozambique was the most challenging, saying 90% of Beira had been affected and that there was major destruction of infrastructure.

"Beyond these areas, the situation is unknown. We have deployed 40 water rescue specialists for this intervention. More personnel are on standby," he said.

While the road leading to Beira has been washed away, the organisation said it was exploring the transporting its boats to the city on cargo planes.

Sooliman said sourcing helicopters was also one its greatest challenge.

"By far, the greatest challenge is sourcing helicopters. This is very, very expensive but extremely urgent. We are busy with options.

"Food, drinking water, medical care and shelter are an essential aspect that has to be factored in. Little children and indeed adults haven't eaten in days," he said.

Source: News24

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