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Sunday, 27 February, 2000, 20:58 GMT
Eyewitness: Flying over the flood

Chokwe province
Chokwe province: Awaiting rescue on a rooftop


By Greg Barrow in Maputo

From above it looks as if a huge tidal wave of brown water has swept through the Save river valley.

Trees have been uprooted, houses lie in ruins and debris is floating in the floodwater. Those who survive the flooding have been stranded on rooftops and in trees.

Beneath them the bloated corpses of livestock float in the waters.

The desperate scramble to board a helicopter
Two South African helicopters chartered by the Mozambican Government are doing what they can to rescue the survivors. Pilots say some people have been trapped in trees for days without food or water.

As the helicopters fly above them the people wave frantically, motioning to their mouths and stomachs with their hands to show that they are hungry.

When the rescue helicopters come to winch them to safety there's a desperate scramble for whatever belongings the people can grab.

Over stretched rescue effort

The helicopters have lifted around 300 survivors to higher ground but their work is difficult, fuel supplies are low in the area and pilots say there's a lack of co-ordination in caring for the flood victims.

A South African helicopter lifts a woman to safety
The South African national defence force says it has more helicopters and planes on standby to fly up to the Save area, where up to 40,000 people are believed to be trapped by the floods.

They would have gone earlier but further heavy flooding in Gaza province has prevented them from moving to other areas in need.

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See also:
25 Feb 00 |  Africa
A sad journey back home
24 Feb 00 |  Africa
Mozambique's economic hopes washed away
24 Feb 00 |  Africa
Mozambique: How disaster unfolded
25 Feb 00 |  Africa
Mozambicans warned away from homes
24 Feb 00 |  Africa
Machel backs Mozambique appeal

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