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. Mozambican government seeks urgent food aid after cyclone

by Staff Writers
Maputo (AFP) March 17, 2008
The Mozambican government has made an urgent appeal to the UN World Food Programme to help more than 60,000 people left destitute when cyclone Jokwe hit northern and central parts of the country.

"The government has made an urgent appeal to the WFP for food to feed people who were affected by cyclone Jokwe," Joao Ribeiro, the deputy national director of Mozambique's government-run national disaster management institute (INGC) told AFP by telephone Monday.

He said the INGC was working with non-governmental organizations, local and international, to assess the situation in the cyclone-hit Zambezia and Nampula provinces.

So far, at least 60,000 people -- many of them living in areas also affected by flooding earlier in the year -- were thought to be in need of urgent food aid, said Ribeiro.

The WFP said in a statement it would begin distributing food to needy Mozambican communities early next week using stocks that had been earmarked for other relief operations.

"WFP needs 550,000 US dollars (350,000 euros) to replenish these stocks as soon as possible," the United Nations food aid agency said.

Ribeiro said the number of people requiring food aid could increase after the assessment.

People were also receiving donated tents, clothes and materials to rebuild the homes they lost in the cyclone, he said.

Cyclone Jokwe, packing winds of 140 kilometres (87 miles) per hour, hit the Nampula province on March 8, killing at least 17 people, injuring scores and leaving thousands homeless as trees and electric pylons fell on houses.

This prompted the government to declare a red alert along the Zambezi River.

But as Jokwe turned for Madagascar last Friday, the Mozambican government downgraded the cyclone to a tropical depression, keeping the coastal regions on yellow alert in case it regained momentum.

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After catastrophic blasts, smoke covers Albanian village in rubbles
Gerdec, Albania (AFP) March 16, 2008
A pall of thick black smoke hung over the village of Gerdec on Sunday, reduced to rubble by deadly explosions at a nearby military depot, killing seven people and leaving more than 240 injured.

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