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Malawi battles cyclone effects

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Days after Cyclone Ana hit parts of the country earlier this week, most districts in the country are counting the cost of damage, The Daily Times has established.

In its wake, the cyclone has left people’s habitats flooded with water, roads cut off, people missing, several confirmed dead as well as thousands being displaced and lacking food items.

According to Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) spokesperson Chipiliro Khamula, heavily affected districts include Mangochi, Lilongwe, Zomba, Phalombe, Balaka, Kasungu, Mchinji, Mulanje, Nkhotakota, Mzimba, Karonga, Chikwawa, Nsanje and Machinga.

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in a report released on Wednesday Department of Disaster Management Affairs indicated that death toll from the effects of moderate Tropical Storm Ana has risen to 11. The 11 deaths have been reported in Neno, Mulanje, Blantyre, Mwanza and Chikwawa districts

Dodma also says a total of 48, 216 households, which is approximately 216,972 people,

have been affected. It further says 107 injuries have been confirmed.

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Dodma officials fear that, as running water from highlands gathers in the Shire Valley where the Shire River— Lake Malawi’s only outlet— has already been swelling, there would be more water-related disasters.

Chikwawa District Relief and Rehabilitation Officer Humphrey Magalasi described the situation in the district as “worrisome”.

“The number of displaced people has passed 10,000,” he said.

He cited strong winds, flash floods, lightning and stormy rains as some of the factors that were exacerbating the situation.

Magalasi added that all the traditional authorities in the district had been affected, with police conducting investigations into reports of death and injuries.

“We, as a district council, are still assessing the situation although we are facing the challenge of access to some of the affected areas. Some roads have been damaged and we are also facing a challenge in terms of electric power. This is the third day without electricity, a development which is obstructing communication. The situation is not good at all,’’ Magalasi said.

Mwanza District Commissioner (DC) Malango Botomani said, by yesterday, one person had been confirmed dead and five others hospitalised after sustaining injuries in Cyclone Ana-related incidents.

“As at now, we have registered one confirmed death and one person is still missing. Police are conducting investigations as I am speaking.

“So far, five people have been admitted to Mwanza District Hospital after sustaining injuries after houses collapsed on them,” Botomani said.

She said the cyclone had left 98 households displaced.

“The displaced people are currently being sheltered in school blocks and mosques in the district. We are still waiting for assistance from the Department of Disaster Management Affairs,” she said.

According to Botomani, two roads including the one that connects the district’s Zero Point to Thambani had been cut off, leaving people stranded.

‘‘Assessment efforts have suffered a prolonged delay because we cannot go as far as Thambani; as such, we are just relying on cellphones, which are also being affected due to blackouts,’’ the DC said.

Ward Councillor for Mlonda in Nsanje Lalanje Constituency, Cassim Hussein, said over 500 households had been affected after losing property to flash floods.

“As I am speaking, water has cut off the Bangula-Nsanje Boma M1 Road and most houses have collapsed due to floods,” he said.

Meanwhile, Khamula has said the negative impact of the disasters include loss of lives, injuries, damage to houses and property as well as the destruction of crop fields and infrastructure.

He indicated that from July 2021 to Friday, January 21 2022— which is well before Cyclone Ana struck— a total of 24,756 households (12,112 female-headed and 12644 male-headed) had been affected by weather-related disasters.

The department has recorded 39 deaths (26 due to lightning strikes and 13 as a result of collapsed walls due to strong winds and stormy rains).

Twenty-one of the dead people are males while 18 are females.

The department has also registered a total of 245 injuries (145 females and 100 males).

The injuries are mainly due to strong winds, stormy rains and lightning occurrences.

“So far, in collaboration with humanitarian partners, the department has reached out to 19, 539 households with relief assistance. The package includes food and non-food items such as maize/rice, plastic sheets for temporary roofing, kitchen utensils, tents, housing units and cash.— Additional reporting by Charles Jingini in Bangula, Nsanje District

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