Marooned Mozambicans cling to life on roofs, terraces

Perched on the terraces of a sports stadium, scores of marooned people stare down at a basketball court filled with dirty brown water.

Five days after a vicious tropical storm tore through their neighbourhood in Buzi, central Mozambique, they remain trapped by flood water.

AFP / ADRIEN BARBIERPeople gather on the roof of a house in Buzi. Some survivors say they have lost all their possessions 

A short distance away, another group is huddled together under an orange garden umbrella, on the roof of a church.

Stranded residents are desperate to be evacuated, but food and clean water are even more pressing needs.

“The situation is very bad, we haven’t eaten since Thursday, until today. We are sleeping outside, everything is destroyed, our houses are destroyed, everything is gone, we have recovered nothing,” said Aunicia Jose, 24, speaking in Gwara-Gwara, near Buzi.

AFP / ADRIEN BARBIERSouth African military personnel deliver relief aid to Buzi — just a handful of helicopters are available for this crucial work

A mob of villagers rushed to an open space where a helicopter had just dropped food, an AFP reporter saw.

Joel Baertschi, a chopper pilot for a Christian humanitarian group, told AFP his organisation had flown in tonnes of food, sometimes plucking people from treetops and roofs, and was now setting up a camp for survivors.

AFP / ADRIEN BARBIERBuzi lay in the pathway of Tropical Cyclone Idai, which smashed into central Mozambique last Friday before cutting a swathe through southern Malawi and Zimbabwe

“We can tell clearly that there is a lot less water now. I reckon one to two metres (3.5 to seven feet) (down) although I am not an expert,” he said.

“When we first saw them on Monday, they were in water up to their necks.”

AFP / ADRIEN BARBIER

He added: “Most of them were on rooftops or gathered on trees huddling into each other and today we actually saw (some of) them walking in Buzi.

“Although the town is still flooded, it gives an indication that the water is going down and help will be easier to access the place.”

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