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Marooned Mozambicans cling to life on roofs, terraces

media Stranded: Survivors of Cyclone Idai gather at the basketball stadium in Buzi, central Mozambique -- a relative haven from the flood water AFP

Perched on the terraces of a sports stadium, scores of marooned people stare down at a basketball court filled with dirty brown water.

Five days after a vicious tropical storm tore through their neighbourhood in Buzi, central Mozambique, they remain trapped by flood water.

A short distance away, another group is huddled together under an orange garden umbrella, on the roof of a church.

Stranded residents are desperate to be evacuated, but food and clean water are even more pressing needs.

"The situation is very bad, we haven't eaten since Thursday, until today. We are sleeping outside, everything is destroyed, our houses are destroyed, everything is gone, we have recovered nothing," said Aunicia Jose, 24, speaking in Gwara-Gwara, near Buzi.

A mob of villagers rushed to an open space where a helicopter had just dropped food, an AFP reporter saw.

Joel Baertschi, a chopper pilot for a Christian humanitarian group, told AFP his organisation had flown in tonnes of food, sometimes plucking people from treetops and roofs, and was now setting up a camp for survivors.

"We can tell clearly that there is a lot less water now. I reckon one to two metres (3.5 to seven feet) (down) although I am not an expert," he said.

"When we first saw them on Monday, they were in water up to their necks."

He added: "Most of them were on rooftops or gathered on trees huddling into each other and today we actually saw (some of) them walking in Buzi.

"Although the town is still flooded, it gives an indication that the water is going down and help will be easier to access the place."

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