Death toll from devastating Cyclone Idai rises above 1,000

More than 4,000 cholera cases and seven deaths from the illness reported in Mozambique.

    Medical staff wait to treat patients at a cholera centre set up in Beira, Mozambique [Mike Hutchings/Reuters]
    Medical staff wait to treat patients at a cholera centre set up in Beira, Mozambique [Mike Hutchings/Reuters]

    The death toll from a storm that crashed into southeast Africa last month has risen above 1,000, with more than 4,000 cases of cholera reported among survivors in Mozambique, the hardest-hit country.

    The United Nations has described Cyclone Idai as "one of the deadliest storms on record in the southern hemisphere".

    The cyclone made landfall the night of March 14 near the Mozambican port city of Beira, bringing heavy winds and rains, before moving inland to neighbouring Zimbabwe and Malawi.

    Zimbabwe on Wednesday updated the number of dead to 344, while Mozambique has reported 602 deaths. In Malawi, 59 people died in heavy rains before the onset of Idai. The final death toll may never be confirmed.

    Zimbabwe's efforts were "confined to the recovery of the deceased" and the government will send pathologists to Mozambique to assist with identifying the dead, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said on Wednesday.

    Some 257 people were listed as missing when the storm struck and 15 were now considered dead, she told reporters.

    Zimbabwe has appealed for international support to raise $613m to help with the humanitarian crisis and cover food imports.

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    Cholera outbreak

    More than two million people, 1.85 million of them in Mozambique, were affected by Idai.

    The UN is seeking $282m to fund emergency assistance over the next three months.

    Since a cholera outbreak was declared on March 27 in Mozambique, the government has recorded 4,072 cases of the disease and seven deaths.

    The majority of the cases have been reported in Beira, which was badly hit by the storm and subsequent flooding. Running water has recently been restored, reaching around 60 percent of a population of around 500,000.

    Cholera is spread via contaminated water or food and can become deadly in hours if not treated. Patients that receive medical care usually recover from the disease within a few days.

    More than 745,000 doses of oral cholera vaccine have been distributed since the vaccination campaign launched last week, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.

    Malaria is another concern as floodwaters recede, with more than 7,500 cases reported, according to the government.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies