(AA) – Six people have been reportedly killed and property, houses and crops destroyed due to flooding caused by heavy rains in Malawi.
“The reports we have are that so far, six people are feared dead, four in Mangochi while two in Zomba. The number might go up,” Paul Chiunguzeni, Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs, told The Anadolu Agency by phone on Friday.
“In most places, houses and crops have been completely destroyed,” he said.
Mangochi District Commissioner Bester Mandele said heavy rains have affected most parts of the southern district.
“Thousands of people are homeless due to the floods. The situation is even more alarming as more housed are collapsing as the rains continues to pour,” he told AA.
Mangochi, a lake shore district and hub of fish business in Malawi, has experienced heavy rainfall for the past two days.
The district estimates that some 500 families have been displaced by the rains and in need of immediate help.
At least 1 000 hectares of crops have also been washed away.
According to eyewitnesses, the rains have forced locals in Mangochi to transfer some of their property to nearest schools, churches and mosques.
In Blantyre, some 540 families have lost their homes due to a hailstorm and floods.
There is also an alert that Luo River is southern Malawi is rising and the government officials have been dispatched to evacuate people living along the river.
Chiunguzeni said a meeting is being held in the capital Lilongwe, where the government will review a budget for Disaster Response.
“We had a budget of (Malawi kwacha) MK150 million or about $300 000. But this budget has been exhausted,” he said.
He said his department will be asking for additional funding amounting to MK100 million ($200 000) to help it respond to the crisis.
“This is a national crisis because we have all these cases at the beginning of the rain season. We only hope the situation does not get worse than this,” Chiunguzeni said.
Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika has since appealed to Malawians to pray for those affected and has deployed Vice-President Saulos Chilima, who is the minister responsible for disaster preparedness, to assess the situation.
Mutharika is yet to declare a state of emergency due to flooding.
Malawi’s rain season begins in October and ends in April.
Since the rains started this year, heavy downpours have been registered in most parts of the country.
Some main roads have been washed away due to flooding in the central region, according to the National Roads Authority.
Malawi’s Lower Shire (Chikhwawa and Nsanje districts), where flooding is a perennial problem, is yet to be hit by the heavy floods although some parts have been displaced by floods.
But the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services has warned of high rainfall amounts which will eventually trigger flash floods in the country for the next two to three weeks.