Hundreds of rural communities were plunged into a food crisis after Cyclone Idai tore through central Mozambique on March 14, humanitarian workers reported. The government estimated that more than 700,000 hectares of agricultural land was flooded, leaving many farmers with nothing to harvest.
The United Nations humanitarian coordination agency, which is overseeing the disaster response, estimates that 1.85 million people scattered across an area of 3,000 square kilometers – roughly the size of Luxembourg – were affected by the storm in Mozambique alone.
More than 750 people died in the storm and heavy rains before it hit Mozambique and two other southern African countries, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Two weeks later, as search and rescue operations wind down, the focus is shifting to feeding the survivors.
Mozambican authorities also announced the first cholera death among cyclone survivors in the hard-hit city of Beira as the number of cases rose to 517.
Broadcaster TVM on Sunday night cited national health official Ussene Isse for the new toll. Cases of the acute diarrheal disease have risen dramatically since the outbreak was declared on Wednesday. Cyclone Idai severely damaged the water system for Beira, a city of 500,000. The World Health Organization has said some 900,000 cholera vaccine doses were set to arrive Monday.
Cholera is an acute diarrheal disease that is spread by contaminated water and food. It can kill within hours but is relatively easy to treat. The overall cyclone death toll in Mozambique is now 518.
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