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The BBC's Clive Myrie reports
"There are still too few helicopters to do the job"
 real 28k

The BBC's Sian Williams reports
"The worse flooding in Southern Africa in 50 years"
 real 28k

The BBC's Greg Barrow in Palmeiras
"Rescue workers are predicting that the worst is still to come"
 real 28k

Kate Horne, Oxfam
"I have asked people here if they have boats to offer them up to help"
 real 28k

MP Claire Short
"The problem isn't money it's deploying on the ground"
 real 28k

Monday, 28 February, 2000, 17:18 GMT
Flood rescuers race against time
Helicopters have lifted more than 1,000 to safety
United Nations aid agencies are appealing for more money and aircraft to be sent urgently to Mozambique, amid warnings that another surge of flood water is about to hit the flood-stricken country.

Rising flood waters are overwhelming efforts to rescue people at risk, and aid workers say there is only a small window of opportunity in the effort to move huge numbers of people from one area to another.

There needs to be more aid and assistance coming in here or we are going to lose a lot of people

World Food Programme official
There are currently just seven helicopters carrying out rescue missions over a huge area where tens of thousands of people are at risk.

More than 1,000 people have been plucked from trees, rooftops and power pylons after new flood water surged down the Limpopo River into the southern Gaza Province and the Save River poured into neighbouring Inhambane Province.

Oxfam launched an appeal on Mozambique television for the owners of boats to assist the helicopters in rescuing the thousands of people still stranded.

Many are huddled in groups on ever-shrinking patches of high land in the centre and south of the country.

Rescue workers are predicting that the worst is still yet to come, with new flooding due to arrive in Mozambique as the heavy rain from Zimbabwe and South Africa flows down the rivers and pours into the flood plain covering much of the southern part of the country.


"There's massive destruction along the Save River," World Food Programme spokesman David Schaad, said.

"There are people stranded in trees and on homes. A lot of people are getting killed."

Officials refuse to speculate how many people have already been swept away.

Thousands have been displaced
While Mozambique has borne the brunt of the flooding, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana were badly hit last week.

At least 200 people are known to have died in the flooding across southern Africa.

Two Malawi air force helicopters arrived in the country on Sunday, in addition to five deployed by South Africa.

A Unicef spokesman in Mozambique said the South African Government had six more helicopters which should reach the area on Monday or Tuesday.

The BBC's Greg Barrow says that by the time the extra help arrives, thousands of people could have drowned of starved to death after being trapped in trees or on the roofs of their houses.

Rescue contract

The UN has appealed for $13m from international donors for relief efforts in Mozambique.

Survivors clung to whatever they could
The South African helicopters have been flying almost daily for three weeks to help Mozambique cope with the worst flooding in 50 years.

South Africa has spent more than $3m operating the five helicopters and three fixed-wing aircraft in Mozambique since the flooding began.

There had been fears that the aid budget would soon run out. But the UK's development ministry on Sunday pledged an extra $1m, which will allow the South African rescue contract to be extended by about 10 days.

Countries neighbouring Mozambique, including South Africa, say that they cannot offer more help because the floods have also hit them.

Aid workers have warned that other rivers may flood and that the risk of disease is increasing.

As well as helping those in immediate danger, already stretched aid workers face the task of helping the estimated 200,000 Mozambicans who have lost their homes.

A South African Government spokesman said his country is prepared to take in some of those displaced by the flooding, but other countries would also have to play a part.

He said urgent talks would be held with the main relief agencies.

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See also:

28 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
UK ready to aid Mozambique
28 Feb 00 |  Africa
Long task ahead for aid workers
28 Feb 00 |  Africa
The floods: A regional disaster
25 Feb 00 |  Africa
A sad journey back home
24 Feb 00 |  Africa
Machel backs Mozambique appeal

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