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More than 1,000 dead after Cyclone Idai, 'inland ocean' seen from space

Staff Writer |
More than 1,000 people are feared dead in Mozambique and Zimbabwe as the flood catastrophe caused by Tropical Cyclone Idai persists.

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Drier weather is expected to finally return later this weekend.

The confirmed death toll from Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi has surpassed 500, according to the Associated Press (AP).

A total of 259 people were killed in Zimbabwe. That includes more than 120 people who were swept away by floodwaters down a mountainside in Zimbabwe onto Mozambican soil, where they are being buried.

The death toll in Mozambique stands at 242 with at least 142 injured.

A United Nations official described "an inland ocean" to have formed in central Mozambique as rivers overflowed their banks around Lake Urema, the New York Times reported.

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi estimated that 1,000 people of his country may have been killed, but Elhadj As Sy, the secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), told the AP that number may be exceeded.

The death toll is expected to reach 350 in Zimbabwe.

Idai barreled onshore north of Beira, Mozambique, late last week with its strength equivalent to a Category 3 major hurricane in the Atlantic or eastern Pacific oceans.

Localized downpours will continue to hinder rescue and recovery efforts into Saturday. Ongoing flooding can be aggravated in some areas, while isolated landslides can be triggered.

Floodwaters are reportedly starting to recede in the hard-hit city of Beira, Mozambique, but it will take days for all of the runoff from the flooding across the region to drain back into the Indian Ocean.

Newly-formed Tropical Storm Joaninha in the southern Indian Ocean is expected to strengthen into a tropical cyclone later this weekend but will not threaten land, including Mozambique.

The number of people affected by the cyclone may rise from the current estimates of 2 million, according to Oxfam International.

About 65,000 people have been rescued in Mozambique, the AP reported. Many were found clinging to trees and waiting on rooftops.

On Thursday alone, the IFRC reported that rescue and humanitarian partners brought around 2,000 people to safety by boat.

Around 400,000 people have been displaced by the flooding in Mozambique as floodwaters submerged the coastal city of Beira and areas along the Pungue and Buzi rivers, the AP stated.

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