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The BBC's Jim Fish in Maputo
"Another cyclone could be on the way"
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The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"The world's words are turning to action"
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President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique
"Need to cancel debts"
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Saturday, 4 March, 2000, 13:42 GMT
Aid focus shifts to food
food supplies
Food supplies urgently need to be distributed
Aid workers in Mozambique are diverting resources from rescuing survivors to distributing emergency supplies.

The arrival of extra helicopters, boats and supplies from donor countries has allowed aid workers to move away from desperately plucking victims to safety.

They are now intending to distribute supplies to people still at risk while those already rescued will be ferried to makeshift camps.

An estimated 15,000 people remain stranded by the flood, although water levels in the Limpopo river have fallen slightly.

The South African helicopter teams, which have rescued over 12,000 people so far, has said it will divert four of its seven helicopters to delivering food and medicine.

Its pilots say they are no longer seeing people stranded in any numbers around Maputo.

Influx of aid

Helicopters from the US, UK, France, Germany and Spain will try to reach the more isolated communities that so far have been beyond the reach of the relief efforts.

child with malaria
Many children are showing symptoms of malaria
The surge in foreign aid follows criticism from the Mozambican Government of the lack of urgency in relief efforts.

The UK is diverting a supply ship from the Gulf to deliver more helicopters and personnel, but it will take about six days to arrive.

Nearby Lesotho and Zambia have committed cargo planes to the relief operation.

Officials are hoping that tropical cyclone Gloria, currently over Madagascar, will weaken before it reaches Mozambique.

The BBC's Jim Fish in Maputo says there is hope that the region's dams will be able to contain further surges of floodwaters from neighbouring countries.

'Worse than war'

Some survivors have described the chaos and destruction wrought by the floods as being worse than the effect of the country's 16-year civil war:

"During the war I lost only a few things, but this time I have lost everything" said Amos Novela, a peasant farmer who has been left without his house, three cows and 10 chickens.

Malaria is a growing danger, with clouds of disease-carrying mosquitoes appearing in flooded areas.

Almost half the people rescued from the Save river valley are showing symptoms of malaria, Unicef officials say.

The stranded communities close to the submerged district of Xai-Xai pleaded for food on Friday.

Dozens of villagers rush to meet each new consignment of aid from the World Food Programme helicopters, which bring maize meal, medical packs and clothes.

Response 'shocking'

Heavy rains and flooding first hit southern Africa more than three weeks ago. Before that, weather forecasters had been warning of the danger, as rivers swollen by exceptional rainfall across southern Africa flowed into Mozambique.

One aid agency described the world's reaction to the disaster as "absolutely shocking", while the United Nations admitted it is only now beginning to raise cash to arrange emergency aid.

The country's President, Joaquim Chissano, says the devastating floods have made it much more urgent that international creditors cancel his country's debts.

Mr Chissano told the BBC it would be impossible for Mozambique to rebuild its infrastructure and make repayments at the same time.
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