“We asked Jesus to protect us, so that this does not happen again,” people pray in Mozambique as death toll rises to 446 due to Cyclone Idai.
Cyclone Idai claimed more lives. Mozambique’s death toll rose to 446 from 417, a government minister said Sunday. In Zimbabwe, United Nations agencies have given different tolls of 259 and 154, while in Malawi 56 people died in heavy rains ahead of Idai. The new death toll of all the three countries put the casualty number around 700.
Mozambique’s Land and Environment Minister Celso Correia said the cyclone had affected 531,000 people in his country, with 110,000 people in makeshift camps.
Helicopters and boats have been rescuing some people stranded for days on rooftops and trees.
"We're going to have to wait until the flood waters recede until we know the full expanse of the toll on the people of Mozambique," Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) co-ordinator Sebastian Rhodes Stampa said.
Some survivors have been digging through rubble with their bare hands to search for loved ones, while government and aid agencies have been flying in help.
Cyclone Idai hit Beira, on the Indian Ocean, with winds up to 170 kph (105 mph), before barreling inland to Zimbabwe and Malawi, flattening homes and claiming lives.
Worshippers gathered at battered churches in the Mozambican port of Beira on Sunday, praying for divine protection as the death toll crept up from a cyclone and floods around southern Africa.
“We asked Jesus to protect us, so that this does not happen again,” said congregant and survivor Maria Domingas, 60, who saw trees crashing into her house and water filling her bedroom.
Rhodes Stampa said, “Every day the water recedes we reach more people. Every day the roads open we have better access and we can deliver at more volume and that is the important thing here.”