UN, ICRC scramble for Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi cyclone survivors amid worsening destruction

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Total fatalities known to IOM in Zimbabwe are 259, with hundreds more injured. Some 217 are missing.

Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said the Mozambique government had established a temporary medical center in Beira supported by health teams, including doctors from South Africa.

WFP spokesperson Herve Verhoosel had told journalists Thursday, "It looks like the situation in Chimanimani - the hardest hit district in Zimbabwe - is very bad. Some 90 percent of the district has been significantly damaged."

"The mortuary at the city's main hospital is full, and there are dozens of bodies that need to be removed and cared for in a dignified way," said the ICRC.

The World Food Programme (WFP) said that heavy rains in Zimbabwe's Manicaland and Masvingo provinces had continued to cause massive destruction.

More than 120 bodies had been washed into neighboring Mozambique, where residents buried them. Floods washed away at least four bridges.

"Every day we discover that the destruction left by Cyclone Idai is worse than we imagined," the ICRC statement quoted Hicham Mandoudi, the ICRC's head of sub-delegation in Beira, Mozambique, as saying.

Preliminary results estimated that 80,000 people urgently need food assistance for the next three months in Zimbabwe, said WFP.

GENEVA, March 22 (Xinhua) -- The UN and Red Cross said Friday they are working with government and humanitarian partners in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi to give relief to survivors of Tropical Cyclone Idai with destruction seeming to worsen.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that in Zimbabwe, the cyclone had affected the districts Chimanimani, Chipinge, Masvingo and Mashonaland East, affecting over 80,000 people.

"We are deeply concerned about remote communities that are cut-off by flooding and landslides and are yet to receive any humanitarian assistance," said Mandoudi.

The ICRC said the coastal city of Beira is still flooded, making it impossible to bury bodies.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement it is deploying more staff to the three countries to work with International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and national Red Cross societies.

The ICRC is deeply concerned about rural communities cut-off by landslides and flood-waters.

"In Mozambique, the most affected country, the government has declared a national emergency as the death toll from the effects of the cyclone climbs above the reported 242 and is expected to exceed 1,000," said UN refugee agency UNHCR's spokesperson Babar Baloch, quoting a similar assessment to that given by other UN agencies.