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Thursday, 2 March, 2000, 13:48 GMT
Mozambique: A survivor's story
Helicopter rescue in Xai-Xai
Xai-Xai: Floodwaters are metres high
Paula Cristina, an 18-year-old Mozambican student, tells Portuguese radio about the plight of survivors in the flood-stricken town of Xai-Xai, north of Maputo.

Here in Xai-Xai there is great confusion on the main road, we cannot go anywhere.

The government has told people to leave their homes because of the floods but they are not providing shelter, so people are wandering about without any shelter.

A three-storey building has water up to the first floor, about four to five metres high

Paula Cristina
Aid has arrived from Chibuto. There's no money and corn for the poor which was meant to be given out is being sold.

At my school - which is a brand new school and has just been built - the teachers and the director say they don't want to let the refugees stay, because they will damage the school.

How can they be thinking of the school when so many people are suffering?

Outside my house on the main road a market has been set up and people are just wandering about.

Polluted water

Yesterday, I went to have a look at the water. They are still evacuating people from the city - apparently there are about 200 people left who should leave today.

In Xai-Xai, a three-storey building has water up to the first floor, about four to five metres high.

There are large motorboats, the water is totally polluted with fuel from the petrol stations.

People are going backwards and forwards, they want to return because they left a sheep, or something. People don't seem to be aware of what's going on.

Food costs

We don't have electricity or drinking water.

We have food because people are gathering together and each one contributes something from what they have brought.

people stranded in Chokwe
Huge numbers of people are homeless
But soon we will run out because a bag which cost 120,000 meticals ($8) now costs 700,000 meticals ($49).

Most people need shelter as they are sleeping on the road and in gardens. The problem is the mosquitoes. If they get bitten they will get malaria.

There are no medicines so they just die, and many people have died here in Xai-Xai.

Theft and confusion

There are accidents because of the markets in the middle of the road. Children are running about crying. Women don't know what to do with themselves.

People are selling their things. And then there are the thieves.

Even with the water they want to go into the city to steal people's goods.

Up here there are many thieves. It is not safe. They try to steal our rucksacks, so they can sell what's inside to survive.

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