Zimbabwe: Cyclone Idai Death Toll Set to Double - CPU

19 October 2019

Chimanimani — Tropical Cyclone Idai's death toll is set to double to over 680 but the announcement will be done only after a five-year administrative wait, an official said.

Furious floods March this year swept away hundreds of homes in Chipinge and Chimanimani areas in Manicaland, leaving massive death and environmental destruction.

Manicaland Civil Protection Unit chairperson, Edgars Seenza said the authorities have only managed to account for 341 people, which is less than half of the those who disappeared during the disaster.

He said close to 344 are still unaccountable for, six months after disaster ravaged the province.

"According to the Civil Protection Act, those people can only be declared dead after a five-year period.

"It is the only time grieving families will be issued with death certificates for their beloved ones and bring closure. This enables them to claim compensation from funeral insurance companies," said Seenza.

He also said only the Local Government Minister who heads the Civil Protection Unit will make the pronouncement after the lapse of the stipulated waiting period.

"This prescribed delay is meant to ensure that all efforts are made to ascertain the fate of missing persons. A good example is one person who was previously reported missing but was later seen walking about in Ngaone," said Seenza.

He said the figure could be much higher as there were hundreds of traders and illegal gold panners who were in the region at the time but were not captured in the statistics.

"Many vehicles that were on transit to and from Rusitu on March 15 were swept away together with their passengers. The fate of hundreds of people who were doing illegal gold panning in the trans-boundary park in Chimanimani commonly known as Musanditeera and Tarka forest is still unknown," said Seenza.

The CPU official said it was difficult to account for everyone considering the size of stones and rocks that crushed homes and the volume of water that ran off and flooded the rivers.

Of those reported missing, 325 are from Chimanimani and 19 from Chipinge.

"A total of 158 bodies were recovered from rivers in Mozambique. 157 were buried there while 183 were recovered locally mainly under landslides.

"Only one person was repatriated home back for burial but cabinet has since approved the formal repatriation of the rest of the bodies and the process will be led by a team of pathologists," he said.

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