Government has paid tribute to the government and people of Mozambique for their assistance to Zimbabwe in the wake of the Cyclone Idai disaster, amid revelations that about 82 locals killed during the tropical cyclone have since been buried in the neighbouring country.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo thanked Mozambican communities near Chimanimani, which recorded the highest death toll during the Cyclone Idai disaster, for interring the remains of 82 unknown Zimbabweans believed to have been swept by floods.
Minister Moyo, who also chairs the Inter-ministerial Committee on Civil Protection, said Government was intensifying efforts to retrieve bodies that were buried under huge rocks and earth in the Ngangu area of Chimanimani.
Speaking during a tour of cyclone-hit areas in Bikita on Sunday, Minister Moyo said excavators would soon be moved to Ngangu to move the big rocks believed to be covering some bodies.
“The President has sent his condolences to bereaved families who lost their relatives during the just-ended cyclone disaster and as Government we will give each of the families $1 000 cash that will be sent from the Provincial Administrator’s office and we are continuing the search for bodies in Chimanimani where quite a number of people remain missing,” he said.
“We, however, want to thank communities in Mozambique who are close to Chimanimani for the help they offered to bury the remains of our people. There is a place where 60 bodies were found and another 15 and also another seven and they buried them as they could not keep them anymore.”
Minister Moyo said Government would facilitate that locals who lost their loved ones visit some of these burial places in Mozambique.
“Right now we are not in a hurry for the interred bodies in Mozambique to be exhumed though that might be done later on when the situation normalises,” he said.
“We also have a team of pathologists that will help in the identification of some of the deceased through DNA tests on the remains of recovered unidentified bodies.”
Minister Moyo said a Chinese firm was in the process of clearing a link to Ngangu in Chimanimani where sniffer dogs from South Africa had identified 16 places where human bodies are believed to be buried.
“In actual fact, I would encourage the Ministers of State or Governors in neighbouring Mozambique to work with their counterparts in Manicaland and Masvingo here in Zimbabwe. Very close links must be maintained between them,” said Minister Moyo.
Hundreds of people remain unaccounted for after Cyclone Idai swept through Manicaland and parts of Masvingo.
Government has since announced plans to conduct a census in cyclone-hit areas to ascertain the number of people who have been living communities affected by Idai.
This will help to establish the exact number of missing people since the actual number remain unknown with some parts of Chimanimani having attracted people from other parts of the country who engaging in things like banana trading or artisanal mining.