By Serah Makondetsa:
Twenty-three people died across the country this week following incessant heavy rains accompanied by strong winds which started Tuesday mainly over the southern and central areas.
A statement issued by Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), in the Ministry of Homeland and Security signed by Minister Nicholas Dausi indicates that, so far, 22,000 households – approximately 110,000 – people have been affected by the floods.
The statement further says preliminary reports from about 14 affected districts disclosed that at least 29 people sustained serious injuries while 11 people have been reported missing in the Shire Valley district of Chikwawa.
“The department has received preliminary reports from Machinga, Chikwawa, Zomba, Mulanje, Nsanje, Thyolo, Chiradzulu, Phalombe, Blantyre, Neno, Mwanza, Dedza, Balaka and Mangochi districts.
“A total of 23 deaths have been reported, in Chikwawa six deaths were reported, Balaka recorded three deaths, Thyolo recorded three deaths, Zomba two deaths and Machinga two deaths. Blantyre recorded two deaths, Phalombe, Mulanje, Neno, Nsanje and Chiradzulu recorded one death each,” reads part of the statement.Advertisement
Through the statement, the ministry said district councils in collaboration with humanitarian partners were still conducting assessments to establish the extent of the damage caused by the rains.
“The department would like to assure the general public that it is treating the disaster with the urgency it deserves and that it is monitoring the situation in all the affected districts.
“In the meantime, the department has deployed search and rescue teams in collaboration with the Malawi Defence Force, Malawi Police Service, Malawi Red Cross Society and affected councils,” reads the statement.
A Malawi News crew visit to Mkando Trading Centre in Mulanje Friday established that Thuchila Bridge was submerged in water.
Some residents of the area Peter Sitima and Samuel Chinangwa said the floods have not only affected mobility but washed away crops in many fields.
“Children have not been able to go to school that is right across the bridge for the past three days. Many houses have fallen leaving a lot of people homeless and injured.
“We hope that government will intervene by constructing a much stronger bridge that can withstand such water pressure,” Sitima said.
Chinangwa said this will also affect their businesses.
“So many houses have fallen and a lot of people have sustained injuries. We hope that such incidents do not occur again in the near future,” he said.
Reports on social media indicated that hundreds of people were rendered homeless due to the floods.
Chiradzulu District Commissioner Malango Botomani yesterday could not confirm the reports but said Chiradzulu-Blantyre Road was impassable.
The rains have also wreaked havoc in Traditional Authorities Dambe, Chekucheku, Symon and Mlauli, Neno where over eight people were injured and about 300 houses were destroyed.
In Mangochi Thursday, floods destroyed Mukumba Bridge along Makanjila Road Traditional Authority Namivi cutting off communities from either sides of the river.
A spot check in Blantyre showed several fallen trees and electricity poles making certain roads impassable a development which led to prolonged traffic jam.
Friday, Police in Chikwawa warned motorists against using Blantyre-Chikwawa M1 Road as it was impassable.
Chikwawa Police spokesperson Foster Benjamin said the road has been rendered impassable following the downpour.
“The Shire River which has burst its banks has spilled over to the whole area around Kamuzu Bridge on the river. The rains have also not spared Chikwawa escarpment as it triggered landslide along the road. Meanwhile, road users have been urged to wait a little longer before resuming using the M1 Road,” he said.
Meanwhile, Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services have attributed the persistent rains to the low pressure system which moved into the southern Malawi from Tuesday till Thursday.
According to a statement the department issued Friday, there will be a reduction of widespread heavy rains over southern areas as from today [Saturday] to Wednesday next week while increase in rainfall activities are expected over the central and northern areas due to the presence of the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone.
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