By Hassan Isilow
JOHANNESBURG (AA) – Thousands of victims are still trapped in flooded villages in Mozambique days after Cyclone Idai made landfall, creating a major humanitarian crisis, aid groups said Thursday.
“Our rescue team is currently working with the South African National Defense Force who have sent helicopters and pilots in Mozambique,” Dr. Imtiaaz Sooliman, founder of Gift of the Givers foundation, told Anadolu Agency.
He said members of his rescue team were pulling victims from flooded area into helicopters.
“Ninety percent of Beira has been affected with major destruction of infrastructure, presumed massive loss of life and thousands awaiting rescue in Bizo and surroundings,” Sooliman said.
Cyclone Idai, made landfall in Mozambique's port city of Beira last Thursday with winds of up to 110 miles (177 kilometers) per hour, killing several people in Mozambique and neighboring Zimbabwe.
Television stations in South Africa showed footage of trapped victims being rescued from villages and a stadium.
“We have deployed 40 water rescue specialists for this intervention. More personnel are on standby,” Sooliman said in a separate statement sent to Anadolu Agency.
“What we know so far is that Beira used to be home to 500,000 people but 90 percent of the infrastructure there has been destroyed,” James Kambaki of the aid group, Doctors Without Borders, told Anadolu Agency Thursday.
Kambaki said his organization has dispatched a team of medical personnel to Beira to access the situation before a larger team can be deployed.
Aerial images seen by Anadolu Agency from parts of Mozambique show homes and villages submerged in water.
Authorities in Malawi say at least 56 deaths and 577 injuries have been recorded as a result of heavy rains.
Meanwhile, Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi said Monday he believes the death toll following Idai's landfall could reach at least 1,000. But as of Tuesday only 84 deaths had officially been confirmed.
According to UN statements and local media, tens of thousands of victims have lost their homes, crops washed away and roads have been damaged across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
Gift of the Givers is also offering relief and rescue missions in sZimbabwe and Malawi.