In a video clip shared by Bob Scott, Executive director at Compassionate Justice International, cyclone survivors “marooned the last rapidly disappearing patch of dry land” can be heard calling out as the helicopters approach.
ITN journalist Mark Austin explains: “And here, mothers begging us to save their children. Within minutes, South African military helicopters arrive and what we witness is a day of dramatic rescue.”
Austin zooms in on a pilot hovering “perilously above an overloaded bus, and between overhead power lines.” He adds that its skillful and brave flying, and “these people owe their lives to it.”
Another pilot dangerously lowered the wheels of his helicopter in the water while evacuating the passengers stuck on a truck. The reporter continues:
“The water had now risen several feet in just a few hours. It had become an undignified scramble for survival. But for these people, particularly the children, fighting their way onto the helicopter could be the difference between life or death. So many people are stranded here, the crews can barely cope. […] With each rescue, there are always people left behind. South African rescue crews are doing the best they can, but five helicopters simply aren’t enough.”
As reported by The Guardian, the death toll exceeds 750 – 446 dead in Mozambique, 259 dead in Zimbabwe, 56 dead in Malawi.
Nearly 110 000 are displaced, currently in camps, while thousands are still trapped on rooftops fast-disappearing patches of land.
AFP’s Yasuyoshi Chiba and Adrien Barbier report that, according to cyclone survivors, the waters are “full of snakes.”
“It was very scary, we were running in all direction, the water was full of snakes,” recalls 39-year-old Otelea Jose after arriving from one of the areas worst hit by southern Africa’s deadly cyclone.
Chiba reports that 42-year-old Joao Zakaria is still haunted by the viciousness of the cyclone. Zakaria says:
“There are lots of dead (people), we can’t even count. There was a man, he had 40 cows and he lost all of them. Forty! Imagine. Everybody lost everything.”
Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the scale of the devastation is “extraordinary.” He adds:
“Every day the water recedes we reach more people. Every day the roads open we have better access and we can deliver at more volume and that is the important thing here.”
Watch: SA Pilots rescuing cyclone survivors
The post Cyclone Idai: SA military pilots risk lives to save trapped cyclone survivors [watch] appeared first on The South African.