The death toll following more than a week of heavy rains and flooding in Malawi has risen to 56, an official said on Wednesday.
The floods in southern Malawi have also left more than 83,000 people displaced, as rivers broke their banks, disrupting power and water supply, and rendering homes uninhabitable.
The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services now says that the country has been put on alert for even more rain and flooding on Thursday, as Tropical Cyclone Idai is expected to make landfall through Beira, in neighbouring Mozambique.
The cyclone will dump heavy rains and winds over Mozambique, before moving to southern Malawi and later Zimbabwe, the department’s director, Jolam Nkhokwe told Reuters.
In Chikwawa district, more than 12,432 households were displaced.
“Before my house collapsed, cracks appeared in the walls, and soon after the house came down. We all ran outside and watched as it fell. We were lucky to have got out with only minor injuries. But many other people were killed and some were badly injured. We hear crocodiles have eaten some people. I have lost all my belongings,” said one of the flood victims, Enifa Miliyasi.
Those displaced have been placed in camps, where they are receiving relief food and supplies.
“Since we arrived here at the camp, we have only received maize flour and beans, which we shared amongst ourselves. But the supplies are not enough. We still need more because we are many and the food is in short supply,” according to Gladys Leo, one of the victims.
Health workers meanwhile are grappling with medicine shortages, as conditions at a number of the camps that have been set up.
“We are receiving more women and children. Most of them are malnourished and they need urgent medical attention. Sadly, we do not have enough supplies… Some of these children have malaria but we cannot treat them because we do not have the drugs,” said Dorcus Maseya, a health worker.
Malawi’s President Arthur Mutharika, who declared a state of disaster in southern Malawi late on Friday, cancelled trips to the northern region of Malawi to attend to the flooding.