January 5, 2006

Malawi floods displace thousands

Flash floods in southern Malawi have displaced more than 40,000 people and killed one person when his car was washed away by the rising waters. Houses, livestock and crops of farming families had been swept away in the Lower Shire Valley, a local district commissioner said. About 5 million Malawians are already facing food shortages after the worst drought in more than a decade. According to aid agencies, the floods have further hampered relief efforts.
Malawi's Irrigation and Water Development Minister Sidiq Mia pointed out that over 8,000 farming families had been affected in Chikwawa where crops and livestock have been washed away and houses have fallen. According to him, government has already sourced six tonnes of maize seeds so that people could plant when water receded but warned that people should not return to flood-prone areas.
The floods have also cut off communication with other villages in the area due to poor roads raising fears that the number of affected people could be much higher, our correspondent says. Malawi's Meteorological Department has warned that people living in low-lying areas throughout Malawi should brace for more flooding because heavy rains will continue to fall in the coming weeks. (Rts)

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