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CNN Today

Newborn and Mother Saved from Treetop in Mozambique

Aired March 1, 2000 - 2:34 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We have more incredible stories today coming out of flood-ravaged Mozambique. The overwhelming flooding there affecting an estimated one million people. We're told that earlier today, a woman delivered her baby while clinging to a treetop. About 45 minutes later, she and the newborn were saved in a daring helicopter rescue.

We get more now from ITN's Mark Austin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARK AUSTIN, ITN REPORTER (voice-over): In flooded village after flooded village here, there are dramatic rescued and extraordinary stories. A South African military helicopter lowers a crewman into a tree, where he discovers a 22-year-old women has given birth to a baby daughter just minutes earlier.

A medic was lowered to tend to the woman and to cut to the umbilical cord, and soon the mother, Sofia Shogure (ph), and here newborn daughter are whisked to safety. She'd been trapped in the tree since Sunday night. She was dropped off in the nearest town.

The baby was alive and well, and both mother and daughter were taken to the hospital.

CAPT. KRISTOPH BERLYN, SOUTH AFRICAN HELICOPTER PILOT: Well, the babies first bit of life -- it's quite a thing to be winched out of a tree in your first hour of life.

AUSTIN: The rescue effort is gathering pace here, and not before time. More helicopters, more crews and more hope that last, the thousands of people who have watched their world washed away.

The trees of Mozambique have proved lifesavers for countless families here. And it was from those trees today they rescue teams continued to lift survivors.

The rescued stagger off the helicopters. Many are traumatized, ill or injured. This is how desperately one woman was clinging to the branches of a tree. And so many more are still marooned.

We flew over one almost totally submerged village. These people have not been rescued for three days now. They have little food left and no fresh water. Their dead cattle float in the muddy and now contaminated waters which stretch for mile after mile around them. The problem is that the rescue helicopters are operating elsewhere.

(on camera): Thousands of people remain stranded this evening, and the danger is a further catastrophic rise in water levels, and what may never be known is how many people were washed away before these rescuers could reach them.

(voice-over): But in a hospital on mercifully dry land this evening, sits Sofia Shogure, and a daughter born amid a disaster. In the despair of Mozambiqe, not all hope is gone.

Mark Austin, ITN, Shobuto (ph), Mozambique.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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