70,000 Malawians displaced as Mozambicans flee rising water, crocodiles

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Flag of Mozambique

Blantyre, Malawi (PANA) – Over 70, 000 people have been displaced or have their crop fields destroyed as floods continue to wreck havoc in most parts of Malawi, a senior government official said Wednesday.

“The situation is getting worse in Malawi because the rains are still falling everyday, sometimes continuously for three days, and all the rivers are overflowing thereby destroying crops and houses,” Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs, Lillian Ng’oma, told a press conference here.

Ng’oma said 14 of the country’s 28 districts had been affected by the floods.

She said the situation was worse in the flood-prone southern Lower Shire Valley where a number of villages had been washed away.
“People here have sought refuge in schools and churches and are in urgent need for food aid,” she said. “We are bracing up for a much worse situation; the peak of the rainy season is i n February and yet we are already receiving heavy rains,”

According to the Meteorological Department, most parts of Malawi are being pounded by heavy rains, measuring between 60 and 100 millimetres. So far, some 2, 798 hectares of different crop fields have been damaged.

Ng’oma said the Malawi situation was further worsened by the influx of Mozambicans fleeing rising waters and marauding crocodiles. “These Mozambicans are coming in dug-out canoes from the Mozambican side of the Shire River. Because there is water everywhere crocodiles are just swimming all over attacking people,” she said.

So far 3, 000 Mozambicans are camping in schools and churches alongside their Malawian counterparts. “We can’t turn back the Mozambicans because this is an emergency,” said Ng’oma.

She said although her department had been distributing relief items to the displaced people, the situation was getting worse that her department could no longer cope. “We are appealing for assistance from donor countries and agencies because we cannot cope with the situation,” she said. “We are looking for food assistance, household items; we also need tents and roofing materials like tarpaulin and plastic sheeting.”

So far at least four people have been confirmed dead since the beginning of the flood crisis.

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