Mozambique

More aid arrives as watery Mozambique braces for Cyclone Gloria

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Stephanie Kriner, Staff WriterDisasterRelief.org
As Mozambique struggles to deal with its worst flooding in 50 years, a second cyclone, named Gloria, is bearing down on the deluged southern African country. Aid agencies worry that the already-devastated nation, where thousands are still clinging to trees and rooftops to avoid the raging floodwaters, will be overwhelmed by another disaster.

On Friday, Mozambican state radio warned that Gloria, which was earlier reported to have weakened, was strengthening and heading southwest across the Mozambican channel.

"Meteorological reports are not looking good for Mozambique," Michelle Quintaglie, a spokesperson for the U.N. World Food Program, told CNN. "If that storm (Gloria) comes it will be a catastrophe for this country."

Whether or not another cyclone strikes, the floodwaters are expected to rise further. Rains from last week's Cyclone Eline swelled rivers in the highlands of South Africa and Zimbabwe and the water is surging toward Mozambique.

Meanwhile, the rescue and relief operations continue. South African military helicopters took off at sunrise once again on Friday to rescue some 100,000 people trapped for the seventh night by the worst flooding in memory in central and southern Mozambique. The South Africans have rescued more than 10,000 people since Sunday.

After a week of desperation in Mozambique, international help is finally arriving. Airport officials in Maputo expected the arrival of French, German, and Spanish helicopters and crews on Friday and a British contingent on Saturday. Even Lesotho and Zambia, among the poorest African countries, have committed their only cargo planes to deliver food and medicine to Mozambique.

The United States is sending 550 troops, including medical personnel and a brigade of 19 aircraft to assist in humanitarian relief and rescue efforts in both Mozambique and South Africa.

Some of the U.S. troops, based in Europe, have been specifically trained for humanitarian missions in Africa. The U.S. Agency for International Development also has donated $11.7 million for relief efforts throughout flood-ravaged southern Africa.

The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) launched a $6.8 million emergency aid operation and estimated that immediate support was needed to search for, rescue, and care for up to 300,000 people. WFP also has contributed its own cargo planes and hired private aircraft to assist in the relief operations.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Socieities (IFRC) is also contributing five helicopters to the search and rescue efforts as well as food, shelter, and clean water to flood victims. The American Red Cross has contributed $100,000 to the IFRC effort so far and hopes to raise more. Two American Red Cross workers will travel to Mozambique this weekend to assess the situation and determine how best to direct resources.

Mozambican, South African, Zimbabwean, and Botswanan officials plan to meet in Pretoria to discuss ways to help flood victims in their countries, since Cyclone Eline swept across the region, killing at least 350 people since last month. Aid agencies have warned the death toll could be higher.

Flooding has left an estimated 100,000 people stranded, waiting for helicopters and rescue boats to take them to safety. Most of them are weak from hunger and many have gone without food or clean drinking water for days.

Thousands have been rescued, mostly in Mozambique's Limpopo River Valley, where the flooding is the most severe. "The situation in the Limpopo Valley is worsening," President Joaquim Chissano told reporters after flying over the flooded town of Xai Xai, northeast of Mozambique's capital of Maputo.

In one dramatic rescue Wednesday, a newborn baby and her mother were plucked from a tree. The mother gave birth to her daughter just as the rescue helicopter soared overhead. A crew member discovered the mother giving birth after he had been lowered into the tree. Later, the mother and child were taken to a clinic.

Parts of Zimbabwe and Botswana also are devastated. Zimbabwe officials said on Monday that at least 80,000 people were left homeless by the floods in the east and south of the country. But many of the flooded areas remained inaccessible and the death toll could be much higher. In Botswana, at least eight people have died and 60,000 people are homeless after four weeks of heavy rain triggered massive flooding.

The head of the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned Wednesday that southern Africa faces a "massive humanitarian disaster" unless it receives more aid.

"If the governments of the world are going to help, the time is now--not tomorrow or the next day," UNICEF chief Carol Bellamy said in a statement.

President Chissano on Wednesday urged the world to send more help. Extra helicopters, boats, fuel, and pilots are most urgently needed. Officials say it will take up to four days to complete rescue operations in the southern Gaza province alone. Thousands of other people are trapped farther north along the swollen Save River valley.

Chissano told reporters Wednesday that 1 million people have been displaced by the floods. Even those who are rescued have won only half the battle. Many of them arrive on dry ground shivering and in shock. Food and water is scarce and aid workers warn that many of the displaced may starve to death or die from dehydration. They also warn that the lack of drinking water will lead to epidemics.

An estimated 200 people have already died in Mozambique but officials warn the death toll will climb into the thousands once the floodwaters recede and reveal the bodies of those who could not escape the deluge.

DisasterRelief.org is a unique partnership between the American Red Cross, IBM and CNN dedicated to providing information about disasters and their relief operations worldwide. The three-year-old website is a leading disaster news source and also serves as a conduit for those wishing to donate to disaster relief operations around the globe through the international Red Cross movement.

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How You Can Help

To help the victims of international disasters, you may make a secure online credit card donation with the American Red Cross International Response Fund. Money from the International Response Fund is given to countries most in need of assistance. You can also contribute directly to the Mozambique relief effort by calling 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Or you may send your donation to your local Red Cross or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. To earmark your check for this disaster, write Mozambique in the memo section.

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All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. To help the victims of Mozambique, you may make a secure online credit card donation or call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Or you may send your donation to your local Red Cross or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013.

The American Red Cross is dedicated to helping make families and communities safer at home and around the world. The Red Cross is a volunteer-led humanitarian organization that annually provides almost half the nation's blood supply, trains nearly 12 million people in vital life-saving skills, mobilizes relief to victims in more than 60,000 disasters nationwide, provides direct health services to 2.5 million people, assists international disaster and conflict victims in more than 20 countries, and transmits more than 1.4 million emergency messages to members of the Armed Forces and their families. If you would like information on Red Cross services and programs please contact your local Red Cross.

=A9 Copyright 2000, The American National Red Cross. All Rights Reserved.

DisasterRelief
DisasterRelief.org is a unique partnership between the American Red Cross, IBM and CNN dedicated to providing information about disasters and their relief operations worldwide. The three-year-old website is a leading disaster news source and also serves as a conduit for those wishing to donate to disaster relief operations around the globe through the international Red Cross movement. American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. To help the victims of disaster, you may make a secure online credit card donation or call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Or you may send your donation to your local Red Cross or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. The American Red Cross is dedicated to helping make families and communities safer at home and around the world. The Red Cross is a volunteer-led humanitarian organization that annually provides almost half the nation's blood supply, trains nearly 12 million people in vital life-saving skills, mobilizes relief to victims in more than 60,000 disasters nationwide, provides direct health services to 2.5 million people, assists international disaster and conflict victims in more than 20 countries, and transmits more than 1.4 million emergency messages to members of the Armed Forces and their families. If you would like information on Red Cross services and programs please contact your local Red Cross. © Copyright, The American National Red Cross. All Rights Reserved.