Rescuers plucked thousands of people from trees and rooftops Monday, but many others were forced to spend another night on precarious perches above rising flood waters in this impoverished southeast African nation. Officials say thousands have died in the deluge.
Maj. Louis Kirsten, a spokesman for the South African military, said helicopters rescued more than 3,000 people Monday, including everyone in immediate danger along a particularly hard-hit stretch of the Limpopo River.
The Mozambican government estimates that more than 200,000 people have been left homeless since torrential rains hit the country three weeks ago.
Michele Quintaglie, a spokeswoman for the U.N. World Food Program, said helicopters Monday concentrated on rescuing people stranded in trees near Chokwe, a town of approximately 40,000 people about 100 miles north of Maputo, the capital. Whenever possible, she said, they first saved those holding children.
“In some places, people had been hanging on to branches overnight with children on their backs,” she said.
“Not by a long shot is this over. It seems like the water is still rising,” Quintaglie said.
The National Disaster Management Center said the situation was critical downstream from Chokwe at Xai-Xai, the provincial capital of Gaza province. It said that roads on both sides of the city of 130,000 had been washed away and that the town had no fuel and no power.
Meanwhile, more water was headed downstream into Mozambique’s Cahora Bassa Dam from the country’s western neighbor, Zimbabwe, which Sunday released billions of gallons from its overflowing Kariba Dam.
In Washington, officials said the United States will donate an extra $1 million to help the rescue efforts and will send two planes with relief supplies to the region.
The additional money comes on top of $475,000 already donated to relief efforts and $132,000 donated to Save the Children to fight cholera.