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The BBC's Cathy Jenkins in Maputo
"Mozambique's pleas for outside assistance are slowly being heard"
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The BBC's Greg Barrow
A mission of mercy for woman and baby
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The BBC's James Robbins reports
"The shortage of machines is still acute"
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The BBC's Matt Frei reports
"We are watching the slow drowning of a nation in its own rivers"
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Wednesday, 1 March, 2000, 11:09 GMT
Million homeless in Mozambique
woman and baby in flood
The flood waters are expected to rise further
An estimated one million people have been driven from their homes by the worst flooding to hit Mozambique in 50 years, President Chissano has said.

Hundreds of thousands are believed to be at risk, with floods expected to rise further as rain-swollen rivers bring more water from the highlands of South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Amid the tragedy, there was a sign of hope, with a newly-born baby and mother plucked from a tree above the rising floods.

Before setting off to inspect stricken parts of the country, President Chissano said: "The figure is difficult to quantify but we speak of one million people on the move at the moment."

The president made a plea to the international community: "We say thank you for all the help we have received but we are asking for more. Our people have nothing and the world can do more."

Flood facts
About 100,000 people to be rescued
300,000 people in need of immediate support
Ten helicopters flying missions
Each aircraft can carry 50 - 60 people
8,000 rescued by helicopter since Sunday
Aid officials agree that the foreign assistance received so far has been insufficient to deal with an escalating crisis.

The first consignment of aid from the United States arrived on Wednesday in the form of a planeload of high-energy biscuits, and plastic sheeting to build shelters.

Both the US and the United Kingdom have promised helicopters, but these have yet to arrive.

Thousands of people spent a third night stranded in trees and on rooftops without food or water, as a small team of South African and Malawian helicopters airlifted people to safety.

The South African Air Force has rescued 8,000 people since Sunday, but aid workers estimate that about 100,000 remain stranded. Many have not eaten for days.

Hunger fears

One man said that, although the helicopter which rescued him had terrified him, he was very glad to be out of the water.

"But now I may die because my stomach is empty," Uhle Sithole said.

Most people trapped near the submerged village of Lionde on Tuesday evening had not eaten since early Sunday, when a wall of water surged through the already-flooded Gaza province.

woman in tree
Rescued after three nights in a tree
At least 350 people are known to have died across southern Africa since the flooding started three weeks ago, and aid agencies say they expect that number to rise dramatically as disease spreads.

They warn that, without more resources, a disaster could unfold.

"We're going to see a lot of deaths," Ian McLeod of Unicef told the BBC.

Aid to Mozambique
Pledged or delivered:

1m litres of fuel

Emergency supplies

Emergency supplies

2 helicopters

Emergency supplies

South Africa
Emergency supplies

5 helicopters
Vehicles & boats
Debt cancellation

2 helicopters
Emergency supplies
"We need to ensure we get enough medical assistance and enough water supplies in here in the next few days."

The World Health Organisation has warned that cholera and malaria will become an increasing concern as flood waters recede and stagnate.

Mozambique's new refugees

Thousands of people who have survived the destruction of their homes and their communities are taking to the roads around the flooded Limpopo river, making their way to a refugee camp at Chaqualane.

There the number of refugees grew from 2,000 to 15,000 in less than 48 hours, and is still rising.

Severe diarrhoea is already taking hold among the young children at the camp, where clean water is scarce.

Aid workers are trying to persuade the refugees to move on to larger towns where supplies are more readily available, but many are too traumatised or exhausted to do so.

Panic among those fleeing the rising waters has separated children from their parents, and relief agencies are setting up programmes to try to reunite families.

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