Nick Finney, Save the Children's Response Team Leader in Mozambique, said:
“Our assessment team came back from Matemo Island yesterday and painted a grim picture. They say the island has been destroyed. The hospital, the mosque and the bank are the only buildings left standing.
Residents are in shock. When the cyclone hit, they had to crawl on the ground because if they stood up, they would be blown away.
Our team heard a horrific story of a mother who was running with her five-year-old child in her arms to find safety. In the chaos she tripped and crushed her child. According to the assessment team, three other bodies were found but then they were washed away before they could be identified and buried.
Of the nearly 4,000 people living on the island, authorities estimate 2,500 are now homeless. They are living in broken buildings, or taking shelter in the hospital.
People are telling us they’ve lost all their crops and are now surviving on the dried fish they had stored before the cyclone struck. There is no market to buy food or fresh water. The farms which were growing cassava and beans have been destroyed. The risk of hunger and disease is high.
We are calling on the international community to help the children and their families on Matemo Island, as well as those hundreds of thousands of families across Mozambique, Tanzania and Malawi whose lives have been upended by these cyclones.
Families need tents in the short term, and cement and corrugated iron in the longer term, to rebuild their houses. They need seeds to replant their crops. The international contributions to the dual cyclones that have struck this region haven’t come close to meeting the urgent needs, and time is fast running out. The world needs to act, now.”
For interviews contact Jess Brennan on 0421 334 918.