Mozambique: Floods update

News and Press Release
Originally published
JOHANNESBURG, 22 February (IRIN) - The floods that have devastated much of Mozambique have increased the risk of an outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera and malaria as well as meningitis, the World Health Organisation (WHO) told IRIN on Tuesday.
"The overcrowded conditions under which the displaced people now live pose a danger of an outbreak of epidemics, which could affect at least 800,000 Mozambicans," WHO's Mozambique representative Dr Carlos Tiny told IRIN. He added that as a mosquito-infected country, malaria could pose a bigger health problem for the flood victims.

Tiny added, however, that the Mozambican government is aware of the health threats and measures were being taken to prevent the outbreaks. He said sanitary conditions and water treatment facilities were being put in place to limit the effects of an epidemic.

At the same time, the South African Weather Bureau said Cyclone Eline was expected to hit Mozambique on Tuesday afternoon, while reports from the coastal regions north of the capital, Maputo, said winds in excess of 120 kph (75 mph) and heavy rain had already arrived.

More than 200,000 Mozambicans have already had their homes washed away by flooding in two weeks of heavy rain that left at least 48 people dead, local media reports said.

Thema said the cyclone, moving at 25 kph (15 mph) per hour, was expected to hit Beira, Mozambique's second largest city, as well as other parts of the provinces of Inhambane and Gaza.

Thema added that the cyclone was gaining intensity as it moved towards the mainland, a phenomenon attributed to the warm waters in the Mozambique channel.

South Africa and the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) have stepped up urgent humanitarian assistance to Mozambique, using helicopters to provide food, medicines and tents. A South African National Defence Force (SANDF) member in Mozambique told IRIN that the SANDF, using eight helicopters, had helped rescue about 3,000 trapped people from the north of the country and delivered 260 mt of food since the operation started 12 days ago.

Major Louis Kirsten told IRIN that the SANDF, in addition to the eight helicopters, has also deployed 55 personnel members, among them pilots, technicians and medical staff.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Britain had on Monday sent tents and sanitation facilities to Mozambique and had set up care and resettlement programmes. The report added that Britain's aid, to be channelled through the Department for International Development would amount to US $1.22 million.


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