BY RICHARD MUPONDE/STEPHEN CHADENGA/BRENNA MATENDERE
SHEARWATER Adventures and Chikopokopo Tour Operators in Victoria Falls have dispatched two six-seater long-range helicopters and water rafters to cyclone-ravaged Chimanimani to help in rescue operations.
The Airforce of Zimbabwe and other private players are also on the ground conducting search and rescue operations in the area.
Shearwater Adventures spokesperson Clement Mukwasi yesterday confirmed the development, adding that tourism players in the resort town came together to aid in the rescue operations.
“Yes, it’s true we have dispatched two six-seater helicopters with pilots and engineers and a number of water rafters to Chimanimani to help in the rescue operations of the victims of Cyclone Idai. The helicopters are long-range copters that started work yesterday [Wednesday] and will be based there for a week. On top of that we have also dispatched 15 rafters and a Kayaker [canoe paddler] to rescue marooned victims and retrieve bodies if any. Currently there are now eight helicopters doing the rescue operations,” he said.
One hundred and thirty-nine people have been confirmed dead, while hundreds more are missing.
In a related development, Midlands Provincial Affairs minister, Larry Mavhima on Wednesday said the province had received donations worth over $260 000 in cash and kind for Cyclone Idai victims in the Chirumanzu and Mvuma areas.
“I am happy to note that after launching the initiative yesterday (Tuesday), we have received donations in cash and kind to the tune of over $260 000 and more is coming since we have a lot of pledges from individuals and the corporate world,” Mavhima said in Gweru.
He said Zanu PF Midlands province donated $20 000, while yeast producer Lessafre donated $10 000, Todal Mining ($100 000), Sino Zimbabwe ($30 000 worth of cement), Zimasco (15 000 litres of fuel worth about $45 000), Mesclothing Company clothing items worth $10 000, Sable Chemicals in kind, Bata Shoe
Company 150 pairs of gumboots, Pote Holdings $10 000, Mimosa employees and management donated $28 000.
He said other companies like Dendairy and TM group of companies made pledges running into thousands of dollars.
The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society has also extended a helping hand to distressed victims in Manicaland and parts of Masvingo province.
Stambuli Kim, the Red Cross spokesperson told NewsDay yesterday that the first consignment of essential goods was dispatched to the affected areas on Monday.
He also said rapid volunteer groups of the humanitarian aid organisation were already on the ground helping victims.
“The Zimbabwe Red Cross society has so far delivered non-food items inclusive of 500 blankets, 500 tarpaulins for temporary shelter, 20 boxes of soap, mosquito nets, 300 buckets, 115 compressible jerry cans, clothes and 15 000 water guard pieces,” he said.
“While our provincial team in Manicaland is on the ground assisting the affected and survivors, response teams have also been dispatched from Harare to Chimanimani, Chipinge, Buhera, Bikita and Masvingo. These teams carried with them some response materials as well as surgical and medical sundries which include surgical gloves, drips and glucose.”
Kim called on the public to donate towards the cause.