"People were in the water for seven hours and more, fighting for their lives," says Joao Muthombene, Director of the Rural Association for Mutual Support who was in the boat himself, pulling people from the water. "They were very afraid of the water snakes. They roped themselves together and, when they ran out of strength, tied themselves to trees."
Those rescued were rowed to the safety of a nearby island where ORAM plans to supply them with emergency packages of rice, sugar, oil, bread, matches candles and other basic supplies.
ORAM has an office in Chibuto on the opposite bank of the Limpopo River from Chokwe, the town which was inundated at the weekend. ORAM fears the swelling river could further engulf the Chibuto area where thousands are waiting to be rescued.
"Christian Aid is concerned at how inadequate the international response has been to mobilise helicopters and boats to get people out of the water," says Tony Dykes, Head of Southern Africa. "Local organisations like ORAM - which have been distributing food and emergency relief - are now rescuing people using their own resources, ingenuity and integrity to save lives."
Christian Aid and ten agencies of the Disasters Emergency Committee will be launching a joint appeal this Thursday. In the meantime, donations can be made by calling Christian Aid on 0345 000 300 (calls charged at local rates) or online. Alternatively you can post a cheque made payable to the Mozambique Relief Fund to PO Box 100, London SE1 7RT.
For more information or to arrange an interview contact Eileen Maybin on 0171 523 2417 or 0410 891 395.