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Horror as smell starts to envelop Mozambique as body count mounts

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Morganda Albino took her five children and fled rising waters when they inundated her home.

She managed to save her kids but lost her animals and any clothes, and now the family has nothing to eat.

“We are sleeping along this road and when it rains we will be flooded again,” she told CARE Mozambique from her village Tica.

“First the winds started. The next day the water flooded our home we started running. I saved my children but I lost my ducks goats and my clothes.”

Morganda Albino, 30, fled the rising waters with her five children. Picture: Josh Estey/CARE

Morganda Albino, 30, fled the rising waters with her five children. Picture: Josh Estey/CARESource:Supplied

Families have lost all their possessions. Picture: Josh Estey/CARE

Families have lost all their possessions. Picture: Josh Estey/CARESource:Supplied

Hundreds of people have died in Mozambique and neighbouring countries Zimbabwe and Malawi after being hit by vicious category 4 Cyclone Idai on March 16.

After the devastating 200km/h winds died down, days of rain have followed with swollen rivers bursting banks, wiping out roads, dams flooding over capacity and entire villages being swept away.

More than 400,000 people are displaced in the centre of the country and thousands of lives hang in the balance.

Some have been living in trees for four days.

Torrential rains have continued to lash the area all week and floodwaters are still rising, according to aid groups trying to get food, water and clothing to desperate survivors.

It will be days before Mozambique’s inundated plains drain toward the Indian Ocean and even longer before the full scale of the devastation is known.

Thousands of people are starving because they’ve lost any food supplies.

Thousands of people are starving because they’ve lost any food supplies.Source:Supplied

Locals have been using boats to rescue people stuck in trees for days.

Locals have been using boats to rescue people stuck in trees for days.Source:Supplied

The United Nations humanitarian office said the town of Buzi, with some 200,000 people, was at risk of becoming at least partially submerged.

Zimbabwean officials have said some 350 people may have died.

Clutching a bag of his few remaining possessions, Amos Makunduwa described the devastation with one stark sentence.

“There is death all over,” he said.

“It is beginning to smell really bad. The whole area is like one big body of water, huge rocks and mud. There are no houses, as if no one ever stayed here.”

The force of the flood waters swept some victims from Zimbabwe down the mountainside into Mozambique, officials said.

“Some of the peasants in Mozambique were calling some of our people to say, ‘We see bodies, we believe those bodies are coming from Zimbabwe’,” said local government minister July Moyo.

People rescued by helicopter get helped off the aircraft. Picture: Josh Estey/CARE

People rescued by helicopter get helped off the aircraft. Picture: Josh Estey/CARESource:Supplied

Whole roads have been wiped out. Picture: Josh Estey/CARE

Whole roads have been wiped out. Picture: Josh Estey/CARESource:Supplied

Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi said more than 200 people were confirmed dead in his country but he expected the death toll to be more than 1000.

Aid workers were shocked as they arrived in the Mozambique port city of Beira, estimated to be 90 per cent destroyed.

The 500,000 residents of the city, which has some neighbourhoods that are below sea level, were scrambling for food, fuel and medicine.

Fisherman Luis Bernardo, 26, whose home was flooded in Tica, has been using his boat to rescue up to 20 people a day.

It takes him six hours as a round trip to reach flood victims sheltering in tree tops.

“People are under the trees,” he told CARE Mozambique.

“These are big trees people are sitting in. They have been in them since Friday and don’t have anything to eat. And how will they survive? So I take my small boat to help rescue them.”

“The situation is bad and there are any people stranded. I have saved my family using this small boat.”

Fisherman Luis Bernardo, 26, who’s been rescuing people by boat. Picture: Josh Estey/CARE

Fisherman Luis Bernardo, 26, who’s been rescuing people by boat. Picture: Josh Estey/CARESource:Supplied

The road connecting Beira and Maputo washed out during the cyclone in the village of Tica. People are now crossing using a paddle boats as a taxi service.

Tents and tarpaulin were delivered to a warehouse in the village for distribution.

The train station is being used as a makeshift emergency evacuation centre for those displaced by flooding.

CARE’s Mozambique country director Marc Nosbach, who is leading the aid agency’s response, said the situation remained critical.

“The power of the cyclone is visible everywhere with shipping containers moved like little Lego blocks,” he said.

“Roads to the areas hit by the cyclone have been completely blocked by fallen trees and rubble. The infrastructure has been completely destroyed and there has been significant damage to houses and buildings, including health facilities and schools.”

Locals helping each other to safety. Picture: Josh Estey/CARE

Locals helping each other to safety. Picture: Josh Estey/CARESource:Supplied

Source: Stephanie Bedo@stephanie_bedo

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