As many as 300 people have been killed and 3 000 others displaced by Cyclone Dineo, which triggered the worst flooding to hit Zimbabwe in decades.
State media finally admitted the high number of the dead and displaced on Sunday. This was after the government failed to cope with the tragedy which left whole villages deserted after the inhabitants fled to safety, some thousands of people being helicoptered out by the Air Force after being marooned.
The ZBC report did not say how the people died or where, nor give dates and personal information. In fact, the figure was mentioned in passing in a report by Spren Mutiwi about reconstruction efforts in Matabeleland. State media were apparently banned from reporting on the disaster when it happened and instead focussed attention on festivities to mark president Robert Mugabe’s lavish 93rd birthday celebrations in Matabeleland, close to the centre of the catastrophe.
The government eventually admitted it privately to diplomats and declared it a state of disaster, but only after nudging from European countries, which refused to grant aid unless the emmergency was officially proclaimed. On Thursday, 16 people died in an accident caused by poor roads damaged by Dineo, which swept through southern Africa mid-February.
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