- Death toll reaches 11
- Planes fail to land at Chileka
- No funds at DC’s offices
Incessant rains continue to cause havoc in the country as five more people have died—four in Zomba and one in Karonga—taking the human toll to 11 since the flooding disaster hit the country roughly two weeks ago.
Six others died last week—four in Mangochi and two in Zomba.
Zomba district commissioner (DC) Bennet Nkasala confirmed the death of four people during an interview on Monday.
“We received a report this morning [Monday] that four people—a father, mother and their two children died at Nasawa Trading Centre when the house they were sleeping in fell on them,” he said.
According to the DC, rains have been falling non-stop almost daily since last week, leaving houses, bridges and farms destroyed.
Relief items such as food, plastic sheets and cups from the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) and some non-governmental organisations (NGOs), are being distributed in the affected areas.
The Malawi Defence Force (MDF) are also using their competences and equipment to help minimise the pain of the disaster that, as at Friday last week, had displaced 7 500 households in 14 districts or roughly 45 000 people based on the average of six members per household.
As of yesterday, there was no immediate update on the number of the displaced, but several DCs said they expect the figure to jump sharply as the rains intensify.
In Karonga, areas of traditional authorities (T/As) Wasambo, Mwilang’ombe, Kilupula and Kyungu have been affected with houses and crops destroyed, according to DC Rosemary Moyo.
She said one person died when he was struck with lightning while three others were injured and treated as outpatients.
“We have written to Dodma and we are yet to get a response. However, World Food Programme [WFP] and World Vision have provided us with food and tents, which we have distributed,” said Moyo.
In Balaka, three T/As of Kalembo, Amidu and Nkaya and sub-TA Nandumbo have also been affected and three people were injured, according to DC Rodrick Mateauma.
The case is similar in Ntcheu where 503 households were affected while several hectares of crops were destroyed, according to Ntcheu DC Charles Makanga.
The DC, however, said the main challenge is to reach the affected areas to register people because most of the roads are impassable as they are largely waterlogged.
In Mangochi, DC Bester Mandele said 1 526 families are affected while 468 of them have been displaced and are living in schools, churches and mosques.
In Mulanje, Mangani Bridge has been washed away while Chitakale Estate houses are surrounded by water.
Mulanje DC Jack Nguluwe could not be reached on the phone, but Mulli Brothers Holdings Limited managing director Leston Mulli, whose group owns the estate, confirmed the devastation.
“We have evacuated employees to the upper land, which is safe. Even Nankhaka Estate has been affected as maize, soya beans and peas are all in water,” said Mulli.
But the major challenge affecting rapid response is lack of funds at councils despite the districts having disaster management and relief offices.
Dodma commissioner Paul Chiunguzeni acknowledged the problem, but assured that the fiscal provision to districts for emergency responses will be taken care of in a new disaster management policy to be implemented soon.
He said his department was allocated K150 million, but that government would provide more should the need arise.
In Blantyre, planes failed to land at Chileka International Airport due to bad weather and are instead stuck at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe, according to KIA commandant Donnie Chimtengo.
“There is bad weather right overhead the [Chileka] airport, which is causing visibility difficulties. Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and South African Airways, which were supposed to land at Chileka Airport, are here [in Lilongwe],” he said.
Director of Metrological Services and Climate Change Management Elina Kululanga told Weekend Nation last week that the weather forecast shows that the rains will continue to persist mostly in the North and Centre, but will slightly drop in the South. n