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Tropical Storm Ana: Search mission for missing 18 called off

DISPLACED—Cyclone victims

The government’s search and rescue operation for 18 people that went missing after Tropical Storm Ana hit Chikwawa District in the Southern Region has been called off, the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) has confirmed.

Dodma spokesperson Chipiliro Khamula told The Daily Times that the operation was called off after search teams failed to trace the people.

When the storm hit some parts of Malawi end-January, it destroyed property, washed away crops, left 900,000 people destitute, with 46 people confirmed dead and 20 reported as missing.

“We called off search and rescue operations because we managed to account for all the affected villages and, at that time, water levels had subsided and we had conducted thorough search and rescue operations in all the submerged villages,” he said.

He, however, referred us to Chikwawa Police Station for detailed information on the fate of the missing persons.

Chikwawa Police Officer-in-Charge Alex Cement said they would wait a bit longer before declaring them dead.

“Some bodies are still being found but in decomposed state,” he said.

A Dodma report indicates that agriculture and education were some of the sectors hardly affected.

The report indicates that the storm has affected the already shortened 2022 education year, with nearly 100,000 learners being forced out of school.

It cites damaged infrastructure such as school blocks as some of the factors that have worsened the situation for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

“In Chikwawa, 92 schools have suffered infrastructural damage of varying extent. Twenty-five schools have been occupied by internally displaced persons. Sanitation in these schools has been compromised [such that] for instance, at Bodza School, there is a camp of 2,500 IDPs, with only three male and three female toilets and no bathroom at all. Five schools were submerged in water. 100 pit latrines, 22 classroom blocks, eight teachers’ houses were damaged. Teaching and learning materials were soaked in water due to the storm denying access to education.

“In Nsanje, 40 primary schools and one community day secondary school are affected by storm Ana, affecting 46,474 learners…. The effects range from school structures being submerged in water, and/ or partially and completely collapsed. Specifically, 31 classroom blocks and four administration blocks were destroyed. 13 teachers’ houses were destroyed and, in all these schools, most teaching and learning materials such as textbooks were destroyed by water and falling walls and most of the schools are being used as IDP camps,” the report reads.

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