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The BBC's Ben Brown reports
"Much of the land is under water"
 real 28k

Friday, 25 February, 2000, 18:49 GMT
A sad journey back home

improvised bridge
Some people have to use makeshift bridges in their way home

By Ben Brown in Mozambique

In a country where it's hard to find dry land, it's harder still to get from one place to another.

That does not stop people trying.

Some carry what they have salvaged from their homes, hoping to rebuild their lives elsewhere.

Others go in search of loved ones who have disappeared in this disaster.

A few of the better-off can afford a boat ride, though unscrupulous ferrymen have put up their prices to cash in on this tragedy.

The majority, though, simply have to walk through the filthy brown water that has so devastated Mozambique.

Getting around

So many towns and villages have been cut off in Mozambique, and so many roads and bridges are down that wading through the flood waters is just about the only way to get around.

We followed a family as they went back to the home they fled from a fortnight ago.

The sad journey that took them along roads that have been swept away, and through crops that have been ruined.

The man shows his wife what is left of their house. The answer - absolutely nothing.

It has been washed away. Just a few pots are left.

aerial It has been hard to find dry land in Mozambique
"There was no time to save our clothes or our furniture. It happened so quickly, and the tide of water was so strong," Cesar Messingue said.

Clambing a tree

He says the only way to save his wife and children was for them all to clamber up a tree to escape from the rapidly rising flood waters.

"We stayed up here all night. It was our only chance, but we had to stay awake. None of us could sleep in case we fell into the water," Mr Messingue said.

The crops that were his entire livelihood have been destroyed by these floods.

He had to flee from his home once before during Mozambique's civil war.

This time it is a natural disaster that has ruined him and his family.

They are among the hundreds of thousands of Mozambicans now totally dependent on a massive aid operation that is swinging into action.

A constant shuttle of helicopters fly sacks of food and other supplies to those cut off from the rest of the country.

In Mozambique, more than 80% of the population live off the land, and now much of that land is under water.

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See also:
25 Feb 00 |  Africa
Aid effort gears up for Mozambique
24 Feb 00 |  Africa
Mozambique's economic hopes washed away
24 Feb 00 |  Africa
Mozambique: How disaster unfolded
22 Feb 00 |  Africa
Fears rise for homeless villagers
24 Feb 00 |  Africa
Machel backs Mozambique appeal

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