HARARE, March 29 (Xinhua) -- Sniffer dogs have identified at least 16 spots suspected to have bodies of people trapped under debris from Cyclone Idai in eastern Zimbabwe, the state broadcaster ZBC reported Friday.
Chimanimani and Chipinge in eastern Zimbabwe are the most affected areas by the cyclone which hit the country from neighboring Mozambique mid-this month.
The government said 179 people have so far died in the country as a result of the cyclone while more than 300 people are still missing.
The cyclone, which also affected Mozambique and Malawi, caused extensive damage to Zimbabwe's infrastructure including roads, bridges, schools, clinics and people's homes.
The ZBC reported that all the 16 spots were identified on the first day of the search and recovery on Thursday, with optimism of recovering more bodies now high due to help from the dogs.
Search and Recovery Team leader Justin Colbert, who is leading a team of six experts and two sniffer dogs, said the progress made so far is encouraging despite the fact that huge stones and massive debris is slowing their pace.
"Sixteen suspected bodies were identified today (Thursday) and with the right support we are receiving, we hope to find more," said Colbert.
The 12-member search and recovery delegation is working across all the affected areas in the country while the rest of the team totaling 60 are carrying out similar task in Mozambique.
Legislator for Chimanimani East Joshua Sacco appealed to government and private partners to assist with earth-moving machines to recover the bodies from the identified spots.
South Africa availed the specially trained dogs to Zimbabwe this week to help in searching for the dead bodies.