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CNN Today

U.S. Troops Set to Run Relief Missions to Victims of Mozambique Floods

Aired March 6, 2000 - 2:36 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: About 100 U.S. troops are setting up shop today at an air base in South Africa. They will use the staging ground to run relief missions to victims of Mozambique's floods. More Air Force planes and helicopters loaded with supplies are on the way. The American personnel join South African, French, German and British troops who are delivering aid.

Relief workers estimate a million Mozambicans need emergency help. And with the remnants of Cyclone Gloria ready to bring more rain to southeastern Africa, the situation could quickly worsen.

Here's Robert Moore from Britain's Independent Television News.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERT MOORE, ITN REPORTER (voice-over): The waters are receding and our worst fears are being realized. The bodies of those drowned in these terrible floodwaters here are now being found. They are also being quickly buried amid growing fears of a cholera outbreak that could sweep through the ranks of the weakened survivors.

But at least this ravaged country is finally seeing some front- line aid. It's become a battle to contain disease and combat severe dehydration and hunger. Everywhere we looked, we saw the destruction of people's livelihoods. The stranded cattle that are the only wealth and security they have are now collapsing. It is not just distressing, it signifies economic catastrophe. So does the near total loss of the area's maize crop. Next month is meant to see the harvest. Now, the people here have become utterly reliant on international aid.

The last marooned survivors are also emerging. This was a family we found while flying at low level in an area where the rescue teams have said no one else was left alive. They had eaten nothing, they said, in six days, and they were drinking the contaminated floodwater.

Before we flew them to safety, Silva Mashopi (ph) wanted to show me the tree shelter that had been their sanctuary as the flood had swept through and destroyed their village. They had survived, but their ordeal is just beginning for they have lost everything in a natural disaster that has shown no mercy to some of the world's poorest people. (on camera): These brilliantly improvised tree houses about 20 feet above the water level have saved many thousands of lives. But these impoverished people have also lost their entire maize crop and their cattle, and that is a virtual death sentence unless international aid reaches here in the weeks and months ahead.

(voice-over): They have no idea when they will be able to return, but they are another family showing quite remarkable resilience. The challenge now is to coordinate the accelerating international aid effort and keep disease and hunger at bay.

Robert Moore ITN, southern Mozambique.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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