31 Cyclone Idai victims exhumed in Mozambique for Zim reburial – Govt

HARARE – At least 31 bodies of Tropical Cyclone Idai victims believed to be Zimbabweans washed away to Mozambique through the Rusitu River in Manicaland March 2019 have been exhumed.

This was revealed on Tuesday by Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa at a post-cabinet media briefing in Harare.

Plans have been set in motion to take the remains for forensic examination so they could be reunited with families for decent burial.

More than 300 died from the disaster.

The bodies of those washed away were temporarily buried in the Dombe, Sussundenga and Moussorize, and Espungabeira districts of Mozambique, according to government.

Mutsvangwa said a team comprising pathologists, the Zimbabwe Republic Police forensic officials, the Zimbabwe National Army and the Civil Registry was set up to carry out the exhumations.

“The team, assisted by the Zimbabwean Ambassador to Mozambique Ambassador Matematanda, held consultations with Mozambican officials and traditional leadership before carrying out a total of 31 exhumations,” she said.

“The Traditional Leadership and the grave diggers were paid tokens of appreciation for assisting in the burial of the victims.

“An arrangement was made with Chimoio Provincial Hospital for the storage of the remains of the victims.”

The minister said DNA tests will be carried out in Zimbabwe by the National University of Science and Technology’s Applied Genetic Testing Centre in collaboration with the AiBST Laboratory.

The two laboratories have already collected reference samples from the families who lost their loved ones during the disaster.

Mutsvangwa said government has since made arrangements for the remains to be transported and stored in Zimbabwe prior to the release of DNA results.

Meanwhile, government has resolved to declare as dead, all Zimbabweans who went missing when as a result of the disaster.

This is to facilitate acquisition of the relevant documentation at the Civil Registry Department and the subsequent registration of the deceased persons estates.

Mutsvangwa said “all positively identified remains be conveyed to Mutare General Hospital in order to reduce costs for the grieving families” while a mopping-up exercise will be undertaken to identify burial sites and conduct exhumations on the other side of the Rusitu River.

Government will grant State-assisted burials for victims of the catastrophe.

Cyclone Idai was one of the worst tropical cyclones on record to affect Africa and the Southern Hemisphere.

The long-lived storm caused catastrophic damage, and a humanitarian crisis in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, leaving more than 1,300 people dead and many more missing.

Enjoyed this post? Share it!