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Road accident claims 4 in Chiladzulu

By Jameson Chauluka:

Four people, including a catholic priest Father Mangwiyo, died in a road accident in Chiradzulu when a truck carrying relief maize for families affected by floods collided with a minibus at Senjere in the district on Saturday.

A similar accident occurred in the same district, killing six people on Thursday. It marks a sad week as the number of deaths due to floods in southern region districts has since risen from 23 to 28. This means that in total, 38 people have died since last week.

On Saturday, Homeland Security Minister, Nicholas Dausi, left Blantyre early in the morning with assorted relief items to be distributed to people affected by floods in Chikwawa, only to find out that the M1 Road had been cut off at Domasi between Thabwa and Kamuzu Bridge at the Shire River.

The situation summed up the problems facing people in mainland Chikwawa and the East Bank where six people died, the highest among districts according to figures from Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma).

Dausi failed to take relief items such as maize, plastic sheets, buckets and blankets to the intended victims of the floods which have forced President Peter Mutharika to declare a state of national disaster.

Malawi Defence Force soldiers and their search and rescue equipment were also stuck, failing to proceed to carry out their mission.

“I have been here since yesterday. I am going to Nsanje to visit my parents but I am stuck here,” said Joseph Mbundungu, one of the people, The Daily Times found on the scene.

Some motorists forced their vehicles into thick mud and water with some people pushing them to provide an extra force — of course at a fee, ranging from K5,000 to K20,000.

For those on foot, there were strong men ready to carry them on their backs through the mud and water to the other side of the road, again at a fee of K500.

“I have paid K500 for this man to carry me across. I have been greatly inconvenienced because I did not plan for this expenditure,” said one lady who identified herself as Alice.

Having failed to get to the other side of the district and cheer people affected by the floods and heavy rains, Dausi was forced to cheer those whose houses were destroyed by the heavy rains in areas around Thabwa Trading Centre and distribute relief items.

One such victim is Sellina Ganizani, a widow who does not even know her age.

“I only thank God that the wall fell outwards. I was asleep when the house collapsed and, if it had fallen inwards, I don’t know what could have happened to me,” she said.

The time Dausi was in the district, over 60 households were already at Mediramu Evacuation Centre but the assessment of the damage the rains and subsequent floods had caused was underway.

Most of the houses which fell in Chikwawa and other districts have one common denominator; they were built using mud and unbaked bricks.

Dausi, while giving them the humanitarian assistance from the government, said those affected by the disaster would be considered first in the Malata and Cement Subsidy Programme which the Democratic Progressive Party-led administration is implementing to help them build strong houses.

But just when the country thought it had seen enough tragedy for a week in which six people died in a road accident in chiradzulu, and 8 others dying due to floods and falling walls another tragedy was lurking at Senjere, along the Chiradzulu-Phalombe Road.

The victims were already mourning. They had lost a relation and to some, a church member when a minibus they boarded to lay her to rest at a nearby cemetery was swept by a truck carrying bags of maize to be distributed to families affected by floods in the district.

There was nothing but blood and tears when bodies of the four people, including Father Mangwiyo of Masanjala Parish, who had just led the mass at the funeral were being removed from the minibus which was smashed beyond recognition and trapped under the heavy duty truck.

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