Government, UN agencies differ on number of cyclone victims

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By Idah Mhetu

THE death toll from the deadly cyclone that rocked Manicaland over a week ago, has shot up to 179 according to Local Government Minister July Moyo but  this figure is almost a 100 people less than the numbers given by UN agencies offering relief services in the affected areas.

According to several UN agencies as quoted by Deputy Information Minister Energy Mutodi at least 259 people perished after Cyclone Idai ripped through the south eastern districts of Manicaland, leaving behind it a trail of destruction and death two weeks ago.

Moyo revealed the figures while briefing envoys accredited to Harare as well as international organisations that have chipped in with help to those affected by the natural disaster on Monday.

The Local Government Minister added that thus far, 102 burials have already been conducted while, 12 unidentified bodies have also been buried.

Some 186 injuries were recorded, 38 of them characterised as severe, while the number of missing people has shot up to 329 from 189.

Information permanent secretary Nick Mangwana last week warned most of those recorded as missing may “never be found.”

With the UN having indicated that Cyclone Idai which also wreaked havoc in Mozambique and Malawi had affected close to two million people, Moyo said in Zimbabwe 6788 people were displaced in Manicaland among these, 3500 children and over 40 000 people were victims of the hostile weather phenomenon were now food insecure while 2000 had been displaced. 

Added Moyo: “There is an urgent need for aviation and ground fuel, transportation of plant and equipment rations, protective clothing and other relevant consumables.”

Speaking at the same briefing, Education Minister Paul Mavima said 80 schools were affected in Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland East with all children now undergoing counseling.

“Our learners, from those in boarding school, at least those we managed to reach, as well as day school learner are already receiving counseling,” Mavima said.

“Emergency funding has been availed to rehabilitate or reconstruct some schools, however, there are funding gaps.”

In terms of infrastructure, Moyo indicated that 11 bridges were damaged with government estimating the cost of rebuilding at RTGS$20.7 million.

 Reports have claimed some bodies of Zimbabweans have washed up in Mozambique but government has indicated it would want to investigate these first before confirmation.