Malawian President Peter Mutharika has declared a third of the country a disaster zone and urgently appealed for foreign aid as incessant rainfall has continued to wreak havoc across the country.
At least 48 people have been killed and around 23,000 forced from their homes by heavy flooding, the President said on Tuesday.
Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management Affairs said the number of those who had been displaced as a result of the flooding had risen to some 45,000 people – or 7,500 households – in 14 districts.
“Assessment of the impact of the floods is a problem currently because most of the affected areas are inaccessible,” said President Mutharika.
He said the Malawi Defence Force has already been requested to “undertake rescue operations using boats.”
So far, rescue efforts have been hampered by funding shortfalls, the President pointed out and appealed for international help.
“I appeal for humanitarian assistance, from the International donor community, the relevant United Nations agencies, the Non Governmental Organisations, the local private sector as well as all fellow citizens of goodwill, so that, together, we can contribute in alleviating suffering on the part of people affected by the floods,” said Mutharika.
“Tents and food are urgently required. Rescue operations are also a priority. Donations in cash or kind should be sent to the Secretary and Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs, P/Bag 336, Lilongwe 3,” said the Malawi leader.
The worst affected districts which the President Mutharika has declared a disaster zone are Nsanje, Chikwawa, Phalombe, Zomba, Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Thyolo, Mulanje, Balaka, Machinga, Mangochi, Ntcheu, Salima, Rumphi and Karonga.
One government official said many victims died when villages were flooded in Mangochi district.
“People have fled into schools and churches on higher ground, others are in the open because there is not enough space,” said Grey Mkwanda, a district planning officer, was quoted by a report Raphael Tenthani filed for Associated Press news agency.
He added that some victims in Blantyre had perished when their homes collapsed.
According to the city’s police spokesman, Elizabeth Divala, search teams are still looking for two children who went missing during the floods.
Malawi’s rainy season begins in October and ends in April.
Since the rains began last year, heavy downpours have been common in most parts of the country.
Elina Kululanga, director of metrological services and climate change management, told AA last Friday that forecasts had shown that the rain would continue for two or three more days, mostly in the country’s northern and central regions.
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