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UN ramps up response to killer Mozambique storm

The UN said Tuesday it was mobilising aid for some 600,000 people hit by Tropical Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, warning the world did not yet appreciate the scale of the “massive disaster.”

Four days after Idai made landfall, the UN’s World Food Programme said it had already dispatched more than five tonnes of emergency provisions to the affected areas.

“WFP aims to support 500,000 to 600,000 people in the coming weeks,” spokesman Herve Verhoosel told reporters in Geneva.

“I don’t think that the world (has) realised yet the scale of the problem,” he added.

While Mozambique’s government has estimated that 600,000 people have been impacted, WFP’s analysis of satellite imagery indicated that up to 1.7 million people in the country were in Idai’s “path.”

But, Verhoosel stressed, not all of those necessarily need emergency support.

A spokesman for the UN’s emergency response office (OCHA), Jens Laerke, described Ida as “a massive disaster.”

More than a thousand people are feared to have died in Mozambique alone while scores have been killed and more than 200 are missing in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

Rescue workers have been racing to locate possible survivors, with many stranded on treetops and roofs.