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Cyclone leaves Mozambique desperate and submerged

A tropical cyclone tore through Mozambique on Friday, triggering mass floods and leaving immense destruction in its wake. More than 200 deaths have been attributed to the storm so far. Amid flattened and submerged buildings, aid workers struggle to reach the stranded in a country where nearly half the population is under age 15. Meanwhile, electricity is out nearly everywhere. Amna Nawaz reports.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    Mozambique and neighboring states are still struggling tonight to rescue victims of a deadly storm and reach others with aid. The cyclone killed hundreds when it struck last week, but the dimensions of the disaster are still coming into focus.

    From above, the destruction is near total, and stretches as far as the eye can see. Homes in this Mozambique port city of Beira are now flattened, flooded, and covered in mud and debris. A tropical cyclone tore through this edge of Southern Africa on Friday, and headed into Malawi and Zimbabwe on Saturday.

    Julia Luis is a mother of three in Beira. Her family lost everything.

  • Julia Luis (through translator):

    We don't have anything to eat here, no food, nothing. It's a problem. At night, we don't eat. We don't even have a blanket to cover ourselves with. We only have the clothes we are wearing.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Huge swathes of land were left underwater in Mozambique, what one aid worker calls an inland ocean. Survivors have been stranded in trees and on rooftops as floodwaters continue to rise.

    The International Red Cross describes the damage as massive and horrifying. The United Nations says more than 1.7 million people were in the cyclone's path in Mozambique alone. More than 400,000 have been displaced.

    With hard-hit areas accessible only by helicopter, this medical rescue team dropped into the floodwaters and swam through swift currents to find one stranded family perched on a small pile of debris in a lone grove of trees. The group said they have carried out more than 50 rescues just like this.

    U.N. officials said today this may be the worst cyclone-related disaster ever in the Southern Hemisphere, and the full scale is yet to be seen.

  • Herve Verhoosel:

    All over is water. You see water. If people are lucky, they are on the roof, on the top of the rooftop of their homes, and they — they ask for help. But a lot of other people that we have, we know nothing about for the moment, are not as lucky as that.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Getting aid into the region will be a daunting job. Residents have been forced to carry crates of bread and other supplies around collapsed bridges and roads. Meanwhile, electric power is out nearly everywhere, all of this in a country where some 45 percent of the total population is under 15 years old.

    It all but ensures that children will bear the brunt of this disaster and a recovery that could last decades.

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