Malawi

Seven Feared Dead In Flash Floods In Malawi

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Blantyre, Malawi - At least four people were reported drowned while three others were missing following flash floods that have covered a huge area in the Lower Shire River Valley of southern Malawi.
The Commissioner for Disaster Preparedness, Relief and Rehabilitation, Lucius Chikuni, told PANA Wednesday his office has engaged local fishermen in wooden dugout canoes to search for the missing people.

"It's extremely terrible over there," he said.

While the four might have died as a direct result of the deluge, many more, especially children, may die of hunger and disease because thousands of people have been living in the open for several days without food or medicine after their houses and property were washed away.

Chikuni said at least 100,000 people have been displaced following the floods, which have affected several parts of the country, the hardest hit being the valley.

At least six districts in Malawi have been hit by the floods which have destroyed crop fields, several houses and left thousands of people hungry, homeless and destitute.

He said in most districts, his office was able to distribute relief items quickly, adding, however, that the situation was terrible in the valley district of Nsanje because most roads to the area are under water.

"Some people in the district had actually fled to the main road, only to be engulfed by another wave of water that even flooded the road later in the night," he said.

At least 600 villagers from the district had to take refuge in higher grounds in neighbouring Mozambique.

Chikuni said that since vehicles cannot distribute relief items to the area, his office engaged local fishermen to use their canoes.

Chikuni was Wednesday engaged in a meeting with the World Food Programme discussing how the UN agency could help in procuring and distributing food.

Meanwhile, the rising waters in the Shire, an outlet of Lake Malawi that flows into the Zambezi in Mozambique, has exacerbated the crocodile menace in the valley districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa.

Police said there has been a number of incidents where crocodiles have been washed out onto people's dwelling quarters.

No reports of deaths by the stray flesh-eating beasts have, however, been reported.

In a related development, the country's weatherman said that the southern region of Malawi should brace up for more floods as the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone, which induces the area's rainfall, is hovering over the region.

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