Picture: Denis Onyodi/IFRC via AP/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg – Daviz Simango, the mayor of Beira, one of the city’s worst hit by Cyclone Idai, has blamed the Mozambique government for the deaths of hundreds of Mozambicans in the ensuing floods.

The Guardian reports that Simango said Maputo failed to warn people in the areas worst hit by the cyclone despite a “red alert” being issued two days before it struck.

Profound negligence on the part of the southern African country which was completely unprepared for the disaster led to many deaths added Simango, who is also the leader of an opposition party.

The death toll in Mozambique is approaching 500 as flood levels recede and more bodies are found – and could still climb.

More than 3 million people across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe have been impacted by Cyclone Idai, more than half of them children, and all of whom urgently need humanitarian relief, the UN children’s agency Unicef said earlier this week.

The death toll in Beira was relatively low with 20 people losing their lives but about 80 percent of the city was destroyed.

However, the death toll outside of the city was far higher due to city authorities warning citizens within the city limits of the coming disaster with the red alert but failing to warn those in the rural areas.

“This indicates that the central alarm system did not work – people were not warned in the areas at risk,” Simango said.

“There was no mapping of areas vulnerable to flooding. I have the impression that the authorities did not do their homework, and there was profound negligence in how the red alert was managed.

“Mozambique was not prepared. There were no boats, there were no helicopters, no means of saving lives. Most of the people saved were rescued by help coming from outside. 

"The internal capacity to respond immediately to disasters like this is zero, and the result is that with every new day, the list of the dead is updated.”  

African News Agency/ANA