Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Malawi: Hailstorms kill one, damage property

A second wave of hailstorms hit the northern region's capital of Mzuzu killing a child and damaging property worth millions. This comes after a first injured one man and damaged even more property last month.
A tree fell on a stationery vehicle and there was a blackout in the city after the hailstorm hit, killing 8-year-old Marcella Kalowekamo as she returned from school. The girl hails from Karonga, some 300 kilometres from the city where earthquakes killed four people, injured hundreds, displaced over 6,000 and affected over 16,000 people - damaging property including banks, churches, schools and households worth millions.

The girl tried to cross a drift full of water and was swept away in the process. She was pronounced dead on arrival at St. John's Hospital.

From Monday afternoon and most of Tueday there was the blackout as the city's electricity power was damaged afecting confectionery and food businesses that do not have spare power generators. Power company ESCOM said many electricity pylons were affected.

Chiputula and Zolozolo townships were most hit.

In the central region of the country in Phalombe district, another cyclone last Friday injured four people and rendered homeless 4,150 people from 150 households.

Teachers houses were affected, disturbing classes and an assessment report at district level established the 150 families would require relief aid. No one has been assisted yet but the District Assembly office is getting in touch with the Department of Disaster Management Affairs for help.

Malawi has been hit by a series of natural disasters since late November last year. These include earthquakes, cyclones, dry spells, hailstorms and about 14 districts have experienced an armyworm attack.

Thousands have been displaced, fields and crops damaged, threatening the country with a raging food shortage. Government has already started putting aside food reserves for relief aid and floods are feared in the Lower Shire Belt of Nsanje and Chikwawa districts.

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