'Cylone Idai death toll to reach 300'

As the weather was beginning to improve in Cylone Idai-ravaged provinces, government yesterday received a major boost from individuals and big corporates who have committed resources to help families and victims of the violent storms whose death toll is expected to reach 300.

Last night, government said it was still verifying information on the new death toll as it had received news of retrieved bodies on the Mozambican side and whose nationality it was yet to establish.
“The death toll is still on 98 but we are expecting that the figure will rise. 

“We have received information of some bodies that are being recovered, some in Mozambique. “We are waiting to confirm if they are from Zimbabwe. We are expecting the figure to rise up to 300,” permanent secretary in the Information ministry Nick Mangwana told the Daily News.

Government said a 25-year-old man’s body was discovered on the river banks in Bikita and it is suspected he was swept away on Saturday night by a flooded stream near Bikita Rural Health Centre.
Five schools were also affected by the cyclone in Bikita and these include Vushe Primary, Tafara High, Chikukutu Primary, Jaravaza and Fambidzanai Secondary School.

In Gutu, Cheninga Primary School was also affected while Majuru Primary and St Joseph High, Mutsambiwa Primary and Secondary schools were affected. Meanwhile, as government began counting the costs of horrific storms it received massive boost from fellow countries and local corporate companies.

The Tanzanian government donated 214 tonnes of food and 24 tonnes of medical supplies to Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi in response to the disaster. The commendable gestures come as government announced on Monday that it had channelled $50 million from Treasury towards helping victims of the tropical storms and reconstructing the damaged infrastructure which include roads, bridges and schools.

Zimbabwe was battered by Cyclone Idai when it hit the country last weekend — leaving a trail of destruction of epic proportions — which saw bridges, schools, roads and livestock being swept away by powerful rains, apart from killing dozens of people, especially in Chimanimani and Chipinge districts.

And as the weather began to clear somewhat yesterday, authorities stepped up their rescue efforts, particularly in the hard-hit Chimanimani and Chipinge districts of Manicaland, where President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga were touring.

Rescue and relief missions were on the ground to search for missing people and distribute much-needed food and water. In the capital city, dozens of companies including telecommunications giant Econet were holding a meeting to complement government in providing relief to victims of Cyclone Idai.

Econet released $5 million towards helping the victims amid indications that it could increase its support as its relief teams in the damaged areas were realising the humongous work confronting both government and volunteers.

“We are very grateful for the overwhelming positive response we received in response to President Mnangagwa's call for corporate Zimbabwe to stand up to the plate and be counted in terms of supporting the relief effort in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai.
“Corporate Zimbabwe has shown its… social responsibility by providing a lot which will make things a bit better for the people stricken by this tragedy.

“We have had…donations ranging from coffins, tens of thousands of litres of water and drinks from Varun Beverages (Pepsi), LS Water and thousands of blankets including baby blankets and clothes from Waverly Blankets,” Mangwana told the Daily News.

“We have hundreds of tonnes of sugar beans from the Asian Community as well as dozens of trucks full of clothes. Government appreciates all these. “These will be handed over to the president so they can be channelled where they are needed most. It would not be fair not to mention what Econet is doing,” he said further.

This is not the first time that Econet and its sister companies have taken a lead role in responding to humanitarian crises in Zimbabwe.
In 2014, Econet launched ‘'Operation Kubatana-Kubatsirana Tokwe-Mukorsi’’, following the Tokwe-Mukorsi floods disaster and mobilised eight tonnes of blankets, clothes and food worth over US$100 000 for the affected communities.

Last year, it donated over $10 million to fight a deadly cholera epidemic that first broke out in the Glen View and Budiriro suburbs of Harare which claimed more than 50 lives.

The company has since partnered the City of Harare to repair the city’s water and sanitation infrastructure to prevent future outbreaks of water-borne diseases. Former deputy prime minister during the short-lived but stability-inducing  inclusive government — Arthur Mutambara who hails from the ravaged Chimanimani area — thanked the “unity that had been exhibited” by Zimbabweans from all walks of life in responding to the disaster.

“Thanks to all Zimbabweans for working together across the board in confronting this natural disaster —Cyclone Idai.
“This is how it should be. Team Zimbabwe spirit and approach. 
“This catastrophe demands resolve, unity and leadership. The struggle continues,” Mutambara wrote on Facebook.

Apart from destroying bridges and killing people and animals, Cyclone Idai has cut off water supplies to thousands of people in Manicaland and Masvingo provinces.

Traumatised villagers in these areas have said the latest disaster could yet become the worst in living memory as its damage was much bigger that the Cyclone Eline experienced in 2000.

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