Around 1.85 million affected by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique

Hospital Central Da Beira

Cyclone Idai death toll reaches 732, hundreds still missing (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

The United Nations World Food Program received a US$280,000 from the European Union to help provide urgently-needed logistical support to the humanitarian response in the wake of the cyclone that has devastated eastern Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique.

"We are talking about a massive disaster right now where hundreds of thousands -in the millions of people - (are) potentially affected", said Jens Laerke from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

At least 686 people have been killed by the storm and its aftermath across the three countries, a figure that could rise as relief workers prepare for what they say are inevitable outbreaks of diseases including malaria and cholera.

At least 500 people have been reported dead, several hundreds missing and over 2.5 million people affected in Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe as a result of the strong winds and severe flooding.

EU Ambassador Timo Olkkonen, who will visit the affected areas on Wednesday this week, said: "We believe that this helicopter will make a crucial difference to the hard relief operations now underway".

The U.S. military is set to aid in the worldwide effort to assist with providing food and medical care to those affected, reported to be one of the worst natural disasters in southern Africa in recent history.

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The US Africa Command (Africom) confirmed the move three days after Mozambique's government made a formal request to the global community for aid. "Efforts are underway to improve management of dead bodies, as mortuary facilities were either destroyed and/or lack enough facilities and capacity", the United Nations humanitarian agency said.

When asked by journalists about people found sheltering in a school along the newly opened main road to Beira who said they had not eaten since the storm, Correia said the aid had to be prioritised according to necessity. Many wells were contaminated by the floods.

Without changes in climate and disaster risk management and financing policy, climate change is expected to cause economic damages of up to $7.4bn during the period 2003-50 in Mozambique, the statement said.

"We know the people of Scotland are proud global citizens, always generous and whilst this disaster is a long way away, we know you will stand by your worldwide brothers and sisters as they struggle to recover from this disaster and try to rebuild their lives".

Mozambique's former president, Joachim Chissano, was at the press briefing and said authorities "did what they could" to warn residents.

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