Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been forced to cut short his visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to attend to the devastating effects of Tropical Cyclone Idai, which has so far claimed 82 lives and left nearly 200 missing.
Local government minister July Moyo in an exclusive interview with VOA warned that the number of fatalities is likely to rise.
Mr. Mnangagwa has declared the tragedy a state of disaster and his return from UAE is to enable him to be involved directly with the national response.
Harare is battling to rescue thousands of people in Chimanimani and Chipinge, the hardest hit districts of Manicaland Province, east of the country bordering Mozambique.
Authorities in Mozambique say the death toll in that country has risen to 62.
Zimbabwe’s permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information, Nick Mangwana said Mr. Mnangagwa, who had been criticized for flying out of the country in the face of a crisis, is expected to tackle the rain disaster.
Meanwhile, a United Nations team in Zimbabwe is helping the government in conjunction with other partners in supporting about 10,000 people affected by the tropical cyclone.
Some 300 refugees, who were housed at Tongogara Refugee Camp in Manicaland province, have been affected and 49 houses damaged.
The majority of the asylum seekers and refugees in the camp are from the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa; namely, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and other countries.