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Climate department warns of floods

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The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services has warned that the country is likely to receive continuous heavy rains for the next five to six days, thereby raising the possibility of floods in some parts of the country.

According to the department, the rains will be triggered by Tropical Cyclone Chalane, which landed in Mozambique Wednesday— heading towards Zimbabwe, with a possibility of ending in Botswana.

The department’s director Jolam Nkhokwe said this at a press briefing which the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma), Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services and Red Cross Society jointly held in Lilongwe Wednesday.

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Nkhokwe said Cyclone Chalane originated in the Indian Ocean and reached Madagascar on December 26 2020.

He said the department would continue to monitor the natural phenomenon.

“In the next five to six days, we will be receiving a lot of rains in this country –we are talking of daily heavy rains… The whole country will be covered in rains,” Nkhokwe said.

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He said the rains would lead to floods, adding that lakeshore areas would be hit the hardest because they will be receiving “two sources of water; direct rains and water from upland”.

The department has also pointed out that rivers are likely going to burst and cause flooding, hence there is a need for the country to prepare well. Nkhokwe commended Dodma and Red Cross Society for preparing for any eventualities.

He has also warned that there would be more cyclones this year because the Indian Ocean is “abnormally very warm”, a condition the cyclone requires for it to form.

Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs James Chiusiwa said Dodma had activated disaster-response mechanisms to signal that the country is in a state of preparedness.

Chiusiwa said, so far, the government, through the Ministry of Finance, had disbursed K500 million from the total approved budget of K2.4 billion that was allocated to the department.

He said Dodma had also deployed a search-and-rescue team comprising officers from the Malawi Defence Force, Malawi Police Service, the Marine Department and fire services to Chikwawa District in readiness for any possible need to serve lives in the district.

The team members would also be watching out for any signs of danger in Nsanje District and surrounding areas.

“On the other hand, the Air force is on standby in case of any need for deployment to assist in the rescue operation,” he said.

Meanwhile, Red Cross Society Director of Disasters Aston Mwalafu has said officials are already on the ground preparing for any eventuality by, among other activities, training people in how best to assist those that will be affected.

Last year, floods induced by Cyclone Idai affected 975,000 people, left 87,000 people displaced and 60 others dead.

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