Severe flooding struck the city of Blantyre and surrounding areas in southern Malawi on 12 February. Authorities report 4 people have lost their lives and 3 are still missing.
Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) said in a report on 13 February that flooding caused damage in the city of Blantyre and the neighbouring areas of Blantyre and Chiradzulu District Councils. Damage to roads, bridges, houses and material property was reported. DoDMA said the damage in some locations is so severe some families have been left destitute.
One person died and two are still missing after being swept away by floods in Blantyre City. In Lundi in Blantyre District, a search and rescue team rescued two children who were feared dead after being trapped in flooded water. In Chiradzulu, a search and rescue team recovered the bodies of three of the five victims dragged by fast-flowing water after they tried to cross a flooded river. The team is still searching for the remaining two victims.
Full damage assessments are ongoing. DoDMA and local government authorities have provided relief assistance to 16,607 affected households, including food, tents, housing units, kitchen utensils and plastic sheets for temporary roofing.
2022 to 2023 Rainy Season
DoDMA reported that almost 100,000 people have been affected by natural disasters, including storms, heavy rains, floods, strong winds, hailstorms and lightning, since the start of the rainy season in November 2022. A total of sixty-two people have died and 185 have been injured. Roads, bridges, schools and hospitals have all been damaged.
Twenty-eight local council areas have been affected, namely Balaka, Blantyre City, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Chitipa, Dedza, Dowa, Karonga, Kasungu, Lilongwe District, Machinga, Mangochi District, Mchinji, Mulanje, Mwanza, Mzimba, Mzuzu City, Neno, Nkhotakota, Nsanje, Ntcheu, Ntchisi, Phalombe, Rumphi, Salima, Thyolo, Zomba City and Zomba District.
Rising Cholera Cases
The Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, along with Malawi’s Ministry of Health, reported an increase in cases of cholera in the country. Initially geographically limited to some parts of the country, it has now spread throughout Malawi across all 29 health districts putting at risk over 10 million people including more than five million children.
As of 12 February, the ministry reported 42,427 cumulative confirmed cases of cholera and 1,384 deaths. About 600 new cases continue to be reported daily. Case fatality rate remains high (3.3%) although there are some signs of improvement in some Provinces and Districts.
Since the beginning of February 2023, the country has recorded 7,000 new cases including 239 deaths, mainly in most populated areas such as the capital Lilongwe and the city of Blantyre.
In a statement made on 13 February, President Chakwera said Malawians need to work in togetherness to stop the scourge of Cholera that is spreading across the country.
The president made the statement at the official launch of the Tithetse Cholera Campaign at Mgona Community Ground in Lilongwe.
Chakwera said, “we have to stop the scourge because it’s killing our people and robbing families of their loved ones”.
“So far, over 1,300 funerals have happened around the country because of cholera, and the disease is still spreading at an alarming rate”, he said.
Devastating floods in Blantyre, Malawi#Malawifloods pic.twitter.com/H7ZQKqKoaE
— Anish J Vadakkedath (@ajvassure7) February 13, 2023
Sad scenes as heavy rains&floods in Blantyre, Malawi has led to destruction public roads&infrastructure, houses, household property. #climatechange #lossanddamage financing is urgently needed @aej_malawi @PACJA1 @cisonecc_malawi @MalawiGovt @MbobaBen @trocaire @sciaf @acsea_54 pic.twitter.com/Jk5GMU8ytk
— julius ng’oma (@juliusngoma) February 12, 2023
Member of Parliament for Blantyre City East, John Bande, has described the flooding and devastation caused by a heavy downpour in Machinjiri as traumatizing.
Bande says this disatser is a first of it’s kind in the recent memory for residents in Machinjiri,… pic.twitter.com/edeTqS2EYs
— Zodiak Online (@zodiakonline) February 12, 2023
There are fears that two people might have been washed away due to this morning’s heavy downpour of rain in Machinjiri Blantyre.
Reported by Llywellenie Mpasa pic.twitter.com/pIytXqoiEy
— Times 360 Malawi (@Times360Malawi) February 12, 2023
Featured image: File photo for illustration. Flood damage in Salima, Malawi, April 2018. Credit: Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management Affairs