Cabinet sends condolences to families of victims of Cyclone Idai

Friday, March 29, 2019

Cabinet has extended its condolences to the families of victims of Cyclone Idai, which has devastated parts of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. 

The cyclone left a trail of destruction, displaced hundreds of thousands of people, destroyed vast areas, cut off communication networks and made roads impassable.  

In the spirit of Ubuntu, President Cyril Ramaphosa responded to the call for assistance from our neighbours by approving various interventions, including search-and-rescue operations. 

“Cabinet expresses its appreciation on the work done by our South African National Defence Force (SANDF), South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Department of Health,” Cabinet said in a statement. 

SANDF helicopters helped to rescue people trapped by the floods and the SAPS also deployed specially trained dogs with their handlers to the search-and-rescue mission. 

Cabinet also thanked non-governmental organisations and the Gift of the Givers for providing ongoing humanitarian and disaster-relief assistance. 

Earlier this week, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said it is continuing its relief efforts in flood-ravaged Malawi and Mozambique.  

Having been deployed on 16 March to support flood relief efforts with the United Nations, joint inter-departmental, inter-agency and other multinational organisations in Mozambique and Malawi, the SANDF conducted search and rescue missions in support of other humanitarian agencies.  

Using its air platforms, the SANDF is also engaged in multilateral efforts to provide lifesaving and sustenance supplies to areas cut off by the devastating cyclone. 

“The SANDF was critical to all agencies operating in the area in that it provided air-lifts to assist in most low-lying areas, including Beira in Mozambique, which saw entire villages submerged under water, with death toll rising and many people unaccounted for,” the SANDF said in a statement last week.  

To date, the SANDF has done the following:

• Friday, 15 March: When the SANDF was called upon to assist in support of the humanitarian efforts in both Malawi and Mozambique, which were facing serious floods, a light aircraft of the South African Air Force - with a team of specialists on board - was dispatched to these areas to conduct assessments to assist on the ground for humanitarian purposes.

• Saturday, 16 March: Following a successful assessment in both countries, the assessment team deemed it safe to first deploy a team of 10 military health practitioners with search and rescue air assets to Malawi as weather conditions were not as dire as other areas.  Consequently, two military aircraft -- Oryx medium utility helicopter and CASA-212 Light Aircraft -- were pledged and despatched to Malawi.

• Sunday, 17 March: With persistent storm, rains and wind in Mozambique, the SANDF managed to land the first team in Beira to commence with groundwork in preparation for other humanitarian relief organs to make their way to the area.

-              Two Oryrx medium utility helicopters were deployed and are still operating in the area;

-              One Agusta-109 light aircraft for search and rescue;

-              CASA-212 personnel and equipment carrier light aircraft; and

-              PC-12 reconnaissance light aircraft.

• Monday, 18 March to Saturday, 23 March: A total of 82 personnel were deployed to Mozambique on different dates, ranging from health practitioners, cargo carriers, air crews and health specialists such as doctors, psychologists and environmentalists.  

To date, two heavy cargo aircrafts were dispatched to both Malawi and Mozambique to deliver medical supplies, meals and other equipment to support these humanitarian efforts.  

Consolidated successes for the period 18 to 24 March 2019:

-          Rescued: 417

-          Assisted on Critical Medical Conditions: 11

-          Air-lifted to other medical facilities: 30

-          Cargo transported: 7 500kg 

Scores of people were taken to places of safety by the SANDF personnel supported by elements from other agencies. 

The SANDF relief teams have been deployed to those acutely inaccessible areas of Malawi such as Chapinga, Chinkwangwa, Zomba District in Makina, and Phalombwe in Phaloni. –