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flood update

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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawians die as floods destroy homes Some areas are accessible only by canoe By Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre At least seven people have died in Malawi when
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 5, 2001
      Malawians die as floods
      destroy homes

      Some areas are accessible only by canoe
      By Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre

      At least seven people have died in Malawi
      when their mostly mud and thatch houses
      crumbled over them as a result of heavy rain.

      The deaths, in the
      southern district of
      Mangochi next to Lake
      Malawi, brings to 15 the
      number of people who
      have so far been
      confirmed dead as a
      result of the recent

      But Lucius Chikuni,
      Commissioner of the
      Department of Disaster Preparedness, Relief
      and Rehabilitation, told BBC News Online the
      figure could be much more.

      "There are still more areas where we haven't
      been able to go because they were cut off
      from the rest of the country when roads
      leading to them were washed away," he said.

      I used a dug-out canoe to reach those
      isolated areas.

      River backs up

      At Marka, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) from
      the district headquarters in the worst hit
      southernmost Nsanje district near the
      Mozambican boarder, whole areas have been
      flooded with the rise in the waters of the Shire

      The Shire, Malawi's
      largest river and the
      only outlet from Lake
      Malawi, crosses into
      Mozambique where it
      pours into the Zambezi.

      But because the
      Zambezi has been
      inundated by other
      waters from Zambia
      and Zimbabwe, the
      Shire has started
      backing up, flooding
      higher ground in Nsanje.

      Where there were once roads and foot-paths,
      people are now paddling in dug-out canoes.

      Entire fields of crops have been flooded. Mr
      Chikuni said agriculturalists were still assessing
      how much has been lost in terms of lost crop

      But for Dorish
      Sandalamu, chairman of
      the ad hoc refugee
      committee in Nsanje,
      nobody will be able to
      harvest anything in

      "We don't know where
      our next meals will be coming from after the
      floods have receded," he said.

      Chikuni said more areas continue to be flooded
      following heavy rains that have been falling in
      most parts of the country for the past week.

      Thousands homeless

      He said, for instance, in the southern Phalombe
      plains one more river has burst its banks
      causing extensive flooding in more areas and
      displacing a further 3,000 people.

      A similar situation has
      been reported in the
      nearby Mulanje plain
      where two rivers have

      All these spell further
      disaster for the people
      in the worst hit
      southern border district
      of Nsanje, since all the
      waters from
      up-country end up

      The figure of those displaced because of the
      flooding countrywide continues to shoot up.
      On Monday Mr Chikuni said at least 346,000
      people have been displaced and are in dire
      need of food, clean water, shelter and

      Emergency help

      He said so far a number of NGOs and local
      companies have been providing food, plastic
      sheetings for shelter and chlorine to ride water
      of bacteria that could cause an outbreak of
      diarrhoeal diseases like cholera and dysentery.

      "But this is not enough to cater for all areas,"
      he said.

      Vice-president Justin
      Malewezi is expected
      to hold a crisis meeting
      on Tuesday with donor
      countries and agencies
      to brief them about the
      flooding situation.

      The donors are
      expected to pledge
      money towards the
      relief efforts.

      According to the
      Department of Disaster
      Preparedness, Relief and Rehabilitation,
      government has set aside 41 million Malawi
      kwacha (about $513,000) for the relief efforts
      but require at least 100 million Malawi kwacha
      (about $1.3m) to address the immediate needs
      of the displaced people.

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