Frantic search and rescue efforts are underway in Mozambique, where hundreds have been confirmed dead after Cyclone Idai.
Reports indicate several hundred bodies are lying beneath rubble. Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi has said the eventual death toll from the cyclone and ensuing floods could rise to more than 1,000.
Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique’s port city of Beira with winds of up to 170 kilometres per hour Thursday, then moved inland to Zimbabwe and Malawi, flattening buildings and putting the lives of millions at risk.
Mozambique has declared a state of emergency and began three days of mourning Wednesday.
WATCH: Red Cross says cyclone death toll to ‘rise significantly’
Difficult recovery efforts
Recovery efforts following the powerful cyclone have been difficult amid more active weather and flooding.
Torrential rains were expected to continue into the week and cause more flooding. Aid groups said they were also battling rising floodwaters in their mission to get food, shelter and medical supplies to survivors.
People have been reported clinging to rooftops and trees since the cyclone roared in over the weekend. The United Nations humanitarian office said the town of Buzi, with about 200,000 people, was at risk of becoming at least partially submerged.
“Floodwaters are predicted to rise significantly in the coming days and 350,000 people are at risk,” the UN office said.
Aid groups also said they were struggling to reach many survivors trapped in remote areas of Mozambique, where villages were submerged.
UNICEF estimated that 260,000 children were at risk from the devastation.
It will be days before Mozambique’s inundated plains drain toward the Indian Ocean.
The floods have also brought the threat of waterborne diseases.
Survivors desperate for help
Those within the country have been pleading for international support. Many have lost their loved ones, homes and other belongings.
“I have nothing. I have lost everything. We don’t have food. I don’t even have blankets. We need help,” one woman from the village Manhava told BBC News.
Those affected by the storm are beginning to panic, the BBC report said, as several days have gone by without aid groups being sighted.
Many of those who lost their homes are living in makeshift shelters, while others are housed in churches and other public buildings that remain standing.
“Please help us. Tell the world we are suffering. We don’t know where we are going to sleep,” another Mozambique resident named Pedro told BBC News.
WATCH: Death toll rises after Zimbabwe hit by cyclone
Destruction beyond Mozambique
Beyond Mozambique, the cyclone also killed more than 100 people in the neighbouring country of Zimbabwe.
This is one of the most destructive storms to strike southern Africa in decades.
Malawi has not released details of casualties from the storm, which weakened as it moved further inland. More than 50 people had already died in floods the week before the cyclone hit.
— With files from The Associated Press, Reuters