JOHANNESBURG, 29 February (IRIN) -
As Mozambique's flood disaster continued to unfold on Tuesday, aid workers
warned that people stranded by flood waters were at risk of starving and
contracting disease if humanitarian assistance was not "immediately
In a statement on Tuesday, the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) said that "immediate support" was needed to search, rescue and care for up to 300,000 people.
"With more water coming the disaster could spread much wider. Thousands of people are stranded, some on rooftops, in trees on anything they can cling too. International donor support is immediately needed if we are to save lives," WFP's Jean-Jacques Graisse, Assistant Executive Director and Director of Operations, said.
In its latest update the Mozambican Government's Instituto Nacional de Gest=D2o de Calamidades (INGC) said on Tuesday that food and water supplies, medical equipment and shelter were urgently required for people that had been evacuated from affected areas.
The INGC said that although the level of the Save river "appeared" to be decreasing, it was still above the embankment level. It said that all low-lying areas along the Save river were completely flooded. It said that there were about 20,000 stranded people south of the river and another 20,000 on the northern bank of the river.
According to the INGC there were likely to be more floods in the lower Limpopo valley when the gates of the dam on the Buzi river were opened this week. It added that central and northern parts of Mozambique would continue to receive rain, at least until the end of the week. The southern regions may also receive light rain.
It said that a reconnaissance flight by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) confirmed that the worst-hit areas were around Chokwe and Canicado in the southern Gaza Province. Other "critical locations" in the province identified by the INGC were Chibuto, Guija, Xai-Xai, Govuro, Machanga, Machaze and Massangena. The floodwaters in Chokwe have spread to a distance of about 30 km, the INGC said.
WFP said on Tuesday that had so far delivered about 1,200 mt of maize, pulses, sugar and oil to 50 key points in badly affected areas. The food is being distributed to an estimated 100,000 people with the help of local authorities, non-governmental agencies, church groups and resident themselves.
WFP said that it had received reports from WFP staff in Beira, about 700 km north of Maputo, that cyclone Eline had sunk four ships docked in the ports channel. Beira, in Mozambique's Sofala Province, is the country's largest and busiest port.
The UN agency said it had 365 mt of emergency food aid waiting to be cleared at Beira, which would be distributed to flood stricken areas in the central parts of the country.
The INGC said that the SANDF had put a contingency force on standby. This consists of six Oryx helicopters, one Cassa fixed-wing aircraft and a Cesna. These will be brought to Mozambique, if the donors give the go-ahead. The cost of running this expanded force would be around US $200,000 per day. Three of the Oryx helicopters would stay in Maputo, while the others would be based in Beira.
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