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Wednesday, 8 March, 2000, 04:32 GMT
UN chief urges Mozambique aid
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.
"When we are dying in thousands then they come running," Ms Machel said. "It's always too late."
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.
But as floodwaters dropped rapidly in parts of the country, the extent of the destruction became clear for all to see.
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.
"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.
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.
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.