Malawi – Deadly Floods in Southern Region

Heavy rains in southern and central parts of Malawi have caused flooding and rivers to overflow, in particular the Shire River in Chikwawa, where local media say 6 people have died.

Flooding of the Shire River in Southern Region of Malawi, March 2019. Photo: Government of Malawi

The government of Malawi said in a statement of 07 March, that “Thousands of people have been displaced and a good number of people reported missing and others feared dead in the southern part of Malawi due to a heavy downfall of rain that started on 05 March, 2019. Malawi Red Cross volunteers and staff have embarked on search and rescue.”

Floods have rendered the Kamuzu and Mwanza bridges on the Shire River in Chikwawa impassable.

Quoting local police, Malawi 24 reported that several people had died in areas around Chikwawa after being swept away by flood waters from swollen rivers. Police are urging the public not to cross swollen rivers but rather wait for such rivers to recede before resuming their crossings. One person died when heavy rain caused a house to collapse in Thyolo.

Malawi’s Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services issued a severe weather warning on 05 March. Chileka, situated about 40 km north east of Chikwawa, recorded 160mm of rain in 24 hours to 07 March.

On 07 March the government warned “as the rains keep on falling nonstop, the Shire River also keeps swelling. All people are advised to take care and move to safer places. Government agencies are keenly monitoring the situation across the country and providing help where required.”

Flooded Mwanza bridge in Chikwawa, Malawi, March 2019. Photo: Government of Malawi

Severe flooding affected Central and Southern Regions of the country in February this year.

Flood Summary

Last updated: March 19, 2019
Event
Malawi and Mozambique, March 2019
Date
March 5, 2019
Type
River flood
Cause
Extreme rainfall, Long-term rainfall
Heavy rain in Southern and Central parts of Malawi have caused flooding and rivers to overflow, in particular along the Shire and Phalombe rivers and tributaries. As of 13 March, 45 people had died, with almost 739,790 affected an around 15,185 households displaced.

Meanwhile the same weather system also caused flooding in regions of Mozambique from 05 March, where (as of 10 March) over 62,975 people have been affected and 10 deaths reported (later this increased to 15: four in Zambezia Province and 11 in Tete Province). Later reports suggested this figure was a high as 66. Mozambique is now facing the impact of Tropical Cyclone Idai which formed over the Northern Mozambique Channel on 09 March, 2019.

Locations

A - Chikwawa (Malawi)
B - Thyolo (Malawi)
C - Mulanje (Malawi)
D - Zomba (Malawi)
E - Machinga (Malawi)
F - Chiradzulu (Malawi)
G - Balaka (Malawi)
H - Nsanje (Malawi)
I - Neno (Malawi)
J - Blantyre (Malawi)
K - Phalombe (Malawi)
L - Mwanza (Malawi)
M - Dezda (Malawi)
N - Tete province (Mozambique)
O - Zambezia Province (Mozambique)
P - Niassa (Mozambique)
Q - Quelimane - Rainfall level 62 mm in 24 hours
R - Shire River at Chikwawa - River level overflowing metres
S - Chileka - Rainfall level 160.1 mm in 24 hours
T - Milange - Rainfall level 224 mm in 24 hours
U - Cuamba - Rainfall level 265 mm in 24 hours
V - Songo - Rainfall level 70 mm in 24 hours
W - Ulongue - Rainfall level 310 mm in 24 hours
X - Caia - Rainfall level 86 mm in 24 hours
Y - Pebane - Rainfall level 78 mm in 24 hours

Magnitude

Rainfall level
62 mm in 24 hours
Quelimane - March 4 to March 5, 2019
Ogimet figures
River level
Overflowing
Shire River at Chikwawa - March 6 to March 8, 2019
Rainfall level
160.1 mm in 24 hours
Chileka - March 6 to March 7, 2019
Ogimet figures
Rainfall level
224 mm in 24 hours
Milange - March 5 to March 6, 2019
Ogimet figures
Rainfall level
265 mm in 24 hours
Cuamba - March 6 to March 7, 2019
Ogimet figures
Rainfall level
70 mm in 24 hours
Songo - March 6 to March 7, 2019
Ogimet figures
Rainfall level
310 mm in 24 hours
Ulongue - March 7 to March 8, 2019
Ogimet figures
Rainfall level
86 mm in 24 hours
Caia - March 7 to March 8, 2019
Ogimet figures
Rainfall level
78 mm in 24 hours
Pebane - March 7 to March 8, 2019
Ogimet figures

Damages

Fatalities
30 people
Malawi - March 6 to March 10, 2019
Fatalities
66 people
Mozambique - March 5 to March 11, 2019
Evacuated
75,000
Malawi - March 6 to March 11, 2019
estimated figure. Malawi government reported 15,185 households displaced, mostly from Southern Region. 187 temporary camps have been set up by the Government of Malawi in the affected districts.
Evacuated
10,512
Mozambique - March 6 to March 11, 2019
Zambézia, Tete and Niassa provinces
Affected
62,975
Mozambique - March 6 to March 11, 2019
Zambézia, Tete and Niassa provinces
Affected
468,650
Malawi - March 6 to March 11, 2019
Malawi government reported 93,730 households displaced, mostly from Southern Region