Photo: The Herald The flooded Odzi River in Zimbabwe. By Felex ShareCabinet yesterday resolved to launch a formal appeal for domestic and international assistance on the Cyclone Idai disaster whose death toll now stands at 268 people. The appeal is for assistance in ongoing rescue and search efforts as well as restoration of basic infrastructure and social services in Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland East provinces. Briefing journalists after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the death toll was expected to rise as rescue and search efforts continued. “Cabinet received a comprehensive update from the Minister of Local Government, Public works and National Housing on the ongoing rescue and search efforts in the aftermath of the Cyclone Idai Disaster,” she said. “Cabinet noted with satisfaction that access to the affected areas is steadily improving as more roads are being reopened. As a consequence of this development, the distribution of food and other forms of relief assistance is now reaching a greater spread of the affected communities. Cabinet however, is concerned over the shortage of aircraft to airlift relief assistance to collection points that are still inaccessible by road. It is noted with sadness that the figure of human fatalities has now risen to 268 and is still expected to rise as the search efforts continue.” She went on: “Pertaining to the way forward, Cabinet approved the launch of a formal appeal for domestic and international disaster relief assistance in respect of the Cyclone Idai Disaster. Cabinet wishes, once again, to express its profound appreciation for the overwhelming response by both locals and the broader international community to calls by His Excellency the President for offers of assistance towards the victims of the disaster.” She said Government appreciated civil servants, the Zimbabwe Defense Forces and other security agencies as well as members of the media who continue to discharge their work “with a high level of commitment despite working for long hours and under trying circumstances”. Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet also took note of the impending visit to Chimanimani by 18 presidents of the local political parties, involved in the political parties’ dialogue. They are visiting to express their solidarity with the people affected by the disaster. Expanding on the appeal, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo said the request was focusing on food and non-food items. “The appeal which will be launched by Government is looking at food and non-food items that are needed to give sustenance to the people who have been affected by the Cyclone and that figure is quite big and we take into account that a lot of Zimbabweans have been assisting us,” he said. “While we are making the appeal we know that a lot of assistance has come from Zimbabweans, our reginal and international partners. Yes, we have been assisted but we also want to create capacity for rescue and search operations. We have to restore our infrastructure which is divided into various sub-sectors. Roads have been destroyed and we are putting attention on both main roads and feeder roads. Power was rendered non-working in the whole area of Chimanimani and parts of Chipinge and Zesa is working hard to restore supplies. Water systems have to be restores. This is both for domestic use and irrigation purposes. Boreholes have been flooded and are now inoperative, causing a lot of anxiety in terms of clean drinking water. Communication systems have to be restored also.” Minister Moyo said the other resources were needed to cater for those in need of psycho-social counselling. “We estimate that there are about 50 000 people who need this,” he said. “We have to put resources so that this takes place and this will be led by the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and other agencies such churches and UNICEF.” He said Government allocated $100 million towards the disaster but more resources were needed. He said all donations and assistance being given to Government were being accounted for.