Fights for food break out in Mozambique as Cyclone Idai devastation drives survivors to hunger

  • ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine

Survivors of the devastating Cyclone Idai have been driven to fight for what little food has reached Mozambique.

ITV News has seen first hand the desperation of those waiting for food deliveries from their local government in Beira, Mozambique

Deadly Cyclone Idai swept through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe last week and reports from the United Nations and African governments say the death toll has risen to more than 550 people, with an estimated 2.6 million others affected.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) announced on Friday that its appeal raised £8m on its first day, with donations from the public still coming in.

The Queen and Prince Charles were among thousands of people to donate as the humanitarian crisis unfolded, while the UK government upped its pledge to match the first £2m raised to £4m.

Two of the locals in Beira, Mozambique waiting for food.

But while aid is now beginning to trickle out to those in need, fears remain over the combined threats of flooding, hunger and illness, with crops destroyed and waterborne diseases likely to spread.

The task of delivering aid is also being hampered by the destructive force of the cyclone on the region's infrastructure with entire bridges and roads destroyed and many areas only accessible by air.

Beira, Mozambique's port city, bore the brunt of the storm, with some estimates suggesting 90% of it has been destroyed, and those who live there are now desperate for food.

Fights broke out in the city as the local council brought food to a municipal building.

"No food, no food" one man shouted to ITV News as mayhem broke out around him.

It has been left to the army to control the chaos.

Footage filmed by ITV News shows soldiers throwing bags of flour into the hungry crowds in hopes of keeping them at bay.

Beira's residents believe the response from the government has been inadequate and deliberate.

They have accused the soldiers of keeping the food supplies for themselves.

Flooding in Buzi, Mozambique.

The response from survivors has been the same in the hard-hit town of Buzi, which is only accessible by air.

The persistent flooding has forced those living in the area to take shelter on rooftops.

ITV News visited the area with a government helicopter carrying Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi.

He claims he is doing all he can to respond to the country's desperation.

But his meet and greet appeared to be short lived as locals discovered that his helicopter was carrying food and another fight broke out.

Locals in Buzi, Mozambique, storm a government helicopter carrying food.

DEC launched its fundraising appeal in the wake of the disaster, and said there was still much to be done.

As the days after the immediate impact of the cyclone pass, fears deepen that the humanitarian crisis could worsen.

The Department for International Development (DfID) announced on Friday that it would double its original £2m match-funding pledge to £4m after the scale of the response from Brits.

"Following the British public's overwhelming generosity to DEC's appeal for Cyclone Idai victims, the UK will match pound for pound a further £2m of donations on top of the total already raised," a DfID spoksman said.

"This new support will double the impact of the public's own donations and will ensure that charities working on the ground can reach the men, women and children who have been left homeless and are in urgent need of food, water and temporary shelter."