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Expect more floods—Met

By Jameson Chauluka & Pilirani Kachinziri:

Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services has warned of another heavy downpour in the Southern Region starting from Thursday, amid reports that the death toll from the recent floods has risen from 30 to 45.

A statement from the department says the downpour follows development of Tropical Cyclone Idai in neighbouring Mozambique.

“A deep and wide low pressure system in the Mozambique Channel developed into a Tropical Cyclone named ‘Idai’ on 11 March 2019 at a distance of 900 kilometres from southern Malawi border in Nsanje at position 17.4o South and 43.2o East approximately west-north of Madagascar,” the statement reads in part.

The statement says the cyclone is expected to make a landfall over Beira in Mozambique, 480 kilometres to Nsanje Boma by Thursday, while dumping heavy rains overland in Mozambique and southern Malawi.

“The anticipated heavy rains and strong winds are expected starting from Thursday 14th March to Sunday 17th March 2019 mainly over southern areas of Malawi which are at risk for [sic] locally damaging winds, flooding and significant travel disruptions as the Tropical Cyclone makes its way to Zimbabwe where it is expected to weaken and die on 18th March 2019,” it reads.

The statement says, to secure property and lives, the public should move to higher grounds when water levels have started rising, avoid crossing flooding rivers and not seek shelter under trees and weak infrastructures.

Meanwhile, the death toll from floods caused by heavy downpour which happened last week has risen from 30 to 45, with 577 people injured, Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) has announced.

“A total of 147,958 households (approximately 739,790 people) have been affected and 15,185 households have been displaced. Most of the displaced families are living in camps and their relations’ houses. So far, a total of 187 camps have been established in the affected districts,” reads Dodma’s official facebook page Tuesday.

Dodma spokesperson, Chipiliro Khamula, said they have distributed relief items to all the hard-to-reach areas affected by floods, especially in Lower Shire districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa.

Nsanje District Commissioner, Reinghard Chavula, on Monday said many houses have collapsed and two deaths were reported in Makhanga area.

“We have received a lot of support in form of food, blankets, plastic sheets and pales. We are thankful to the government,” she said.

Village Head Kalonga recalled that such devastating floods occurred in 2015 but her subjects could not move upland because the government has not allocated them a proper land for resettlement.

“People just talk…No , the government has not allocated us resettlement place (up land). But we need to protect the lives of these children,” he said.

United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has also provided assistance to the affected areas, ensuring that primary and secondary school classes resume in areas affected by the floods.

In a press release issued on March 11 2019, Unicef Public Relations Officer, Rebecca Phwitiko, says they would provide tents and school supplies to schools and temporary learning centres and deploy additional volunteer teachers to the affected areas.

“With thousands forced out of their flooded homes, many families lack basic supplies including food, water and sanitation facilities. The floods have also disrupted learning for thousands of children,” Phwitiko says.

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