Cyclone Idai has killed at least 64 people in eastern Zimbabwe and destroyed homes, bridges and roads, making rescue efforts difficult.
The tropical storm has already pounded neighbouring Malawi and Mozambique. The latter has cut electricity exports to South Africa, which led to rolling blackouts in Africa’s most industrialised economy.
According to July Moyo, the local government minister in the country, “The death toll has risen from 31 to over 64 now. Some of the bodies have been found floating along the rivers.
The government has declared a state of disaster in the eastern Chimanimani district, which borders Mozambique, allowing authorities to release funds to assist affected families.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who faced criticism from citizens and the opposition for travelling to the United Arab Emirates on Saturday, said he was cutting his trip short to make sure he was “involved directly with the national response.”
The Zimbabwe ministry of information said access to the rescue operations was slowed by damaged infrastructure, including power and communication. Air force helicopters began carrying injured people to hospitals after the weather improved later on Sunday.