SANDF sends team to assist Cyclone Idai ravaged Mozambique
Spokesperson Brigadier-General Mafi Mgobhozi said the first team of 15 left yesterday and the second team of 15 was expected to leave today with medical equipment.
Earlier this week, Independent Online reported that more than 200 people were confirmed dead in the aftermath of the cyclone.
Mgobhozi said the SANDF first had to send a team to assess the situation and see what was needed.
He said a team of 25 was already in Malawi, which was also struck by the cyclone, and it had helicopters there assessing the situation. He said the teams would stay on the ground until the situation had improved.
As the SANDF embarks on its Mozambique operations, rescue teams from KwaZulu-Natal returned last night from the country after spending more than a week there. The teams included personnel from Rescue Care, IPSS Medical Rescue, Rescue South Africa and the University of South Africa.
Garrith Jamieson, operations manager at Rescue Care, said the exhausted teams were expected back last night. He said the teams had worked on average 18 hours a day while in Mozambique. Their efforts consisted largely of rescuing people stuck on rooftops and in trees.
He said the rescue teams were returning by air because their cars were stuck in Mozambique after roads were washed away by the cyclone.
He said there was large-scale devastation in the area.
“People do not understand the severity of the situation,” he said.
Jamieson said people had not taken the news of the impending cyclone seriously and rescuers had arrived to find that “everybody has lost everything”.
According to Caroline Haga of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, an aerial assessment showed that 90% of the port city of Beira was destroyed by Idai.
Jamie LeSueur, who is leading the assessment team, said: “Almost everything is destroyed. Communication lines have been completely cut and roads have been destroyed. Some affected communities are not accessible.”
He said they had also had a medical team in Malawi that returned last Thursday. The team of 10 was flown to the country on an Oryx helicopter.
According to Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières), the death toll in Malawi stands at 56, with 577 people injured and three missing.
The organisation said: “The extent of human suffering is not known. The total population of the flood-affected areas is being verified and the rescue efforts of survivors is ongoing.
“Given the size of the flooded area, we expect the death toll to increase significantly. Satellite imaging is urgently needed to get an overview of the true extent of the flooding.
“The humanitarian community is working together with the European Space Agency and the North American Space Agency to get this information, and to secure crucial air resources for assessments.”