Business came to a standstill at Phwezi Trading Centre in Rumphi yesterday following a heavy downpour on Friday night that led to flash floods and mudslides at Hungulu in the district.
At the trading centre, at least 70 families were displaced and property worth millions of kwacha was damaged in the process.
A Nation on Sunday crew visit yesterday morning gathered that the floods, which also affected neighbouring Mzokoto area in Traditional Authority Mwankhunikira, started at around 10pm following heavy rains.
The rains forced Lungazi River to burst its banks and flood the trading centre, which is on the edge of the river.
From the look of things, the situation was worsened by blockage on steel culverts by huge debris that the river carried from nearby mountains.
According to Medrick Mweso, who has lost a house, the floods forced some people to seek refuge on rooftops when the area was in darkness.
“While asleep, I sensed water and woke up only to find everything submerged. I went outside and saw several people on rooftops,” he said.
Caroline Gondwe, a tomato seller at the trading centre, said she lost 20 tins of tomato worth K150 000 and K85 000 cash, which she kept in her house.
She said she got a loan from a village bank and is expected to repay the loan in a week’s time.
“I have lost everything I had. My business is gone. I don’t know how I will repay the loan,” said Gondwe.
This is the second incident since 2001, when three people died, locals said.
Nation on Sunday crew found some victims attempting to recover missing property while others recount their losses.
Chinyolo Area Development Committee (ADC) chairperson, Harvey Chihana, estimated the cost of the loss at K100 million.
He said five people sustained injuries and were rushed to Mzokoto Health Centre in the area, but said no death had been recorded then.
Rumphi District Council disaster risk management desk officer Alufeyo Mhango said the disaster has also affected Mlowe and Phoka, where preliminary findings show that 90 households have been affected.
He said the victims have been provided with starter packs.
As victims of the flash floods were counting their losses at Phwezi, on the other side mudslides blocked the M1 Road at Hungulu, trapping in the mud scores of vehicles, including an ambulance on its way to Jalawe Health Centre to collect patients on referral.
As we went to press, there were also reports that heavy rains accompanied by a heavy storm on the same night hit Mangochi District, destroying a primary school block, several houses and a CCAP church at Malembo Village.