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Disasters kill 30 in 6 months

COLLATERAL DAMAGE—Heavy winds destroyed a house in Chikwawa District

The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) has registered 30 deaths due to disasters that occurred between July and December 3 2021.

Dodma spokesperson Chipiliro Khamula said 19 of the deaths were due to lightning strikes while 11 resulted from falling walls due to strong winds and stormy rains.

“The department has also recorded a total of 147 injuries. The injuries are mainly due to strong winds, stormy rains and lightning occurrences. The department has also received preliminary reports on disasters, mainly stormy rains and strong winds, which have occurred over the weekend in Karonga, Ntcheu, Mwanza, Dedza, Ntchisi, Salima, Mangochi and Lilongwe districts,” he said.

Khamula said lightning, which tops the list of killers among natural disasters, mostly strikes people who are in open places.

“Among measures to minimise the likelihood of being struck by lightning, we must pay attention to daily weather forecasts and postpone open space activities if the forecast calls for thunderstorms, stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity, seek enclosed shelter immediately when caught out in the open during thunderstorms and, while inside the building, stay away from windows and doors,” he said.

The department also advises people against seeking shelter under trees and avoiding plumbing during thunderstorms, saying metal objects and water are good conductors of electricity.

Meanwhile, the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services has warned of continued rainfall activities associated with thunderstorms, lightning, gusty winds and occasional sunny intervals.

“The heaviest thunderstorm episodes are expected over highlands and along lakeshore areas. The expected rains may trigger flash floods, particularly in lakeshore districts,” a statement which department director Jolam Nkhokwe has issued reads.

Khamula, however, said the department, in partnership with humanitarian partners, had been reaching out to affected households with relief assistance.

“Dodma has reached out to 13,385 households, representing 97 percent of the affected households. The provision of relief assistance is ongoing and the department and its humanitarian partners will reach out to all the remaining households, and those that might be affected along the way,” he said.

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