Mozambique cyclone death toll rises to 446

The death toll in Mozambique from Cyclone Idai exceeded 400 Saturday as aid and rescue efforts continued a week after the storm devastated parts of southern Africa, a government official said.

As aid groups, accompanied by South African and Indian militaries, flew over Mozambique to search for missing people, they struggled to assist tens of thousands on the ground.

Mozambique Minister of Land and Environment Celso Correia said the situation “is still critical, but it’s getting better.” He said 1,500 people were in need of rescue from rooftops and trees and about 89,000 people had packed into displacement camps.

Correia said 417 deaths had been confirmed in Mozambique, raising the combined death toll there and in neighboring Zimbabwe and southern Malawi to 676. Aid workers said that number would certainly rise as floodwaters continue to recede. Some 1.7 million people were affected by the storm, one of the most powerful to strike the region in decades.

As storm victims labored to salvage personal possessions they were able to find, many residents in the affected areas worried about their future and shortages of essentials such as food, water and medicine.

International aid efforts were being coordinated by the World Food Program, or WFP. The agency’s southern Africa director, Lola Castro, told VOA on Friday that relief groups were confronted with a “humongous logistics challenge” to help victims who were “extremely stressed.”