BY RICHARD MUPONDE
THE International Organisation of Migration (IOM) in Zimbabwe has pegged the Cyclone Idai-induced floods death toll at over 560, with 261 deaths recorded in Manicaland and about 300 bodies discovered on the Indian Ocean coast in neighbouring Mozambique.
The bodies are believed to have been washed into Mozambique from Zimbabwe.
In a report released on Monday, the IOM put the death toll in Manicaland alone at 261 and the number of buried people at 177 across Manicaland province, with the majority buried in Chimanimani.
The organisation reported that 500 people were still missing in Rusitu Valley.
“(The) death toll has reached 261 in Manicaland, with Chimanimani recoding the highest number of deaths, and over 200 people are reported injured in Chimanimani and Chipinge. More than 300 bodies found in Mozambique on the coast of the Indian Ocean are suspected to have been from Chimanimani-Rusitu Rivers. One-hundred and seventy-seven people have been buried in: Buhera (1), Chimanimani (165), Chipinge (6), Makoni (1) and Mutare Rural (4). One-hundred and eighty-five body bags have been received from the national Civil Protection Committee (CPC),” the report read.
The organisation said 16 000 households needed shelter and non-food items, with Chimanimani and Mutare topping the list with 8 000 and 4 000 respectively, Chipinge 3 000 and Buhera 1 000.
“IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix is on the ground to verify and generate accurate numbers of affected population and their life-saving needs. More than 500 people are still missing in Rusitu Valley in Chimanimani. District rescue efforts are still hampered by damaged roads,” the organisation said.
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It said 80 people had been airlifted to medical centres in Chimanimani, Mutambara and Mutare provincial hospitals and access to the most affected areas of Chimanimani was still a challenge.
A makeshift bridge has been constructed to access Kopa and Chimanimani town from Chipinge via Mafusire High School, which was reportedly accessible with 4X4 vehicles only. The death toll reported by the organisation may have since risen given that more bodies are still being retrieved at Kopa.
Two days ago, the body of a suspected 12-year-old boy was recovered under debris at Ngangu township.
Zimbabwe has also turned to South Africa for sniffer dogs to help in retrieval operations as local canines are not trained to search for corpses.