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Cyclone Ana death toll hits 25

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By Jameson Chauluka

The death toll caused by heavy downpour triggered by Cyclone Ana has risen to 25 while three people are missing.

Commissioner for Disasters Charles Kalemba said the situation remains dire in the affected districts.

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Kalemba said Cyclone Ana is probably the biggest Cyclone to hit Malawi, saying this far, up to 107, 000 households have been affected while 1,150 people have sustained various degrees of injuries.

“Almost every village in the Lower Shire is affected and road infrastructure is destroyed. We have managed to keep some o f the displaced people in camps but others are staying in the roads,” he said.

Kalemba said the department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) has not yet completed surveying all areas as some areas in Nsanje are still unreachable.

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“We are using all means such as boats, air and people on the ground but even then, the affected districts are increasing. We now have Chikwawa, Nsanje, Chiradzulu, Phalombe, Thyolo, Zomba, Mangochi, Machinga, Ntcheu, Dedza and Mchinji,” he said.

President Lazarus Chakwera declared State of Disaster in the affected districts and Kalemba hopes for more support from government and its partners.

He said the Malawi Red Cross Society, for example, is already on the ground.

Red Cross Society Director of Programs Prisca Chisala said they have been working with Dodma before and after Cyclone Ana struck.

“We have been sensitising people in flood prone areas to move upland immediately the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) announced the possibility of Cyclone Ana.

“When the floods hit, we have been and continue to help in search and rescue operations and providing relief items like shelter, Covid prevention supplies and utensils but as you can see, the situation is still dire and there is need for more support,” she said.

Alina Tile, one of those affected we found at Thabwa Camp, said she lost most of her belongings to cyclone Ana.

“I lost livestock. I lost clothes and food including the maize flour I had,” she said.

The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCS) indicates that another Cyclone named Batsirai has formed in the Indian Ocean.

But Kalemba said government will do everything possible to assist people who will be affected by that cyclone too if it indeed affects Malawi.

This week’s floods are considered the worst to have happened in Malawi after the floods of January 2015 when, by the end of that month, an estimated 638 000 people had been affected, 79 were killed and 153 were still missing.

At that point, Nsanje, Chikwawa and Phalombe were the most affected districts with over 170,000 people displaced. The floods affected more than 15 districts.

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