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The BBC's Ben Brown in Mozambique
"As the flood waters are subsiding, the death toll is rising"
 real 28k

The BBC's David Shukman in Mozambique
"It's especially difficult for the children"
 real 28k

The BBC's Jim Fish in Maputo:
"Many people are going without food and without fresh water"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 8 March, 2000, 04:32 GMT
UN chief urges Mozambique aid
Boat on the Limpopo
Road links have been severed by the floods
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged "massive" foreign assistance to Mozambique, to minimise the long-term impact of the floods which have devastated much of the country.

Mr Annan emphasised Mozambique's rapid recovery over the past decade from the effects of civil war.

"We know the government and people there can make good use of any aid they receive," the secretary-general told a news conference.

Boy eating a meal
Aid workers say more food is needed
Former Mozambican first lady Graca Machel condemned donor countries for their slow response to the crisis.

"When we are dying in thousands then they come running," Ms Machel said. "It's always too late."

Debts cancelled

The United States has followed the UK in writing off Mozambique's outstanding debts; less than $2m is involved.

President Joaquim Chissano has asked all Western countries to write off his nation's existing $8.3bn external debt and provide $250m of aid.

Foreign donors have so far promised $103m to help rebuild the country.

The US has sent 600 troops to Mozambique, who will begin by identifying "hot spots" where people are in need, and mapping the areas where road and rail links are in need of repair.

Destruction revealed

But as floodwaters dropped rapidly in parts of the country, the extent of the destruction became clear for all to see.

Girl with water vats
Fresh water must be delivered to refugees
The bodies of those who drowned in the floods were taken away for rapid burial in unmarked mass graves, in order to reduce the risk of disease.

Over 400 known to have died, and a UN official said the eventual toll was likely to be in the thousands.

The receding waters also revealed the extent of the damage to roads, with large sections missing from stretches of tarmac which had been submerged.

Police in the town of Xai-Xai prevented people from returning to their homes until the area had been made safe.

Orphaned boy
Some children saw their parents drown in the flood
But reports of looting made people all the more eager to get back to their homes and businesses.

"We are appealing to people not to move back to their homes but to wait and see what happens with the weather in the next few days," said World Food Programme spokeswoman Brenda Barton.

Further rain was predicted for Tuesday night.

Immediate needs

The immediate goal of the aid operation is to get food, clean water and medical supplies to the estimated 650,000 people in need of help.

Aid workers are delivering 100 tonnes of aid a day to 250,000 displaced people in 72 camps.

Malaria and water-borne diseases such as cholera continue to pose a serious danger.

People suffering from Malaria
Hospitals are hard-pressed to treat malaria and other diseases
Some 950,000 out of a total population of 19 million have been affected by the floods, according to revised figures released by the Mozambican National Disaster Centre.

WFP workers are working to rebuild a washed-out road connecting Maputo to the country's biggest refugee camp near Chokwe, where up to 50,000 flood victims are being supplied only by helicopter.

The UN Security Council has expressed concerns over the estimated two million landmines which remain after Mozambique's civil war.

The floods are thought to have shifted the position of mines, bringing a new danger to areas which had previously been cleared of the deadly weapons.

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