Malawi in SOS for earthquake victims


Lilongwe – President Bingu wa Mutharika has called for speedy humanitarian assistance for about 12 000 Malawians made homeless by an earthquake that ran for six days killing a one one-year old baby, destroying houses and disrupting social services in five of the southern African nation’s northern districts.

 “We need urgent emergency assistance for these people, especially the women and children whose eyes are filled with fear and hopelessness,” said Mutharika who flew Monday morning from the commercial city of Blantyre to the remote villages of Karonga, the worst hit district, to console the affected families.

 “These people need housing, food, safe water and sanitation and health services,” said the Malawi leader who donated US$18, 000 as temporal relief to the victims currently squeezed in limited tents provided by the Malawi Defense Force and the Malawi Red Cross.

 Karonga district Commissioner Gasten Macheka said government with assistance from the department of geological survey was examining possible areas to relocate six villages from earth tremor prone land to safer uplands.

 Geologist Charles Kankuzi noted that it was not safe to keep the people back there especially when the rainy season had also set in.

 “The remaining dwelling structures have been weakened and can easily collapse even when a quake of lighter magnitude strikes” he said pointing out that the biggest tremor that hit the district and killed the one year old baby weighed 5.9 on the Richter scale. Meanwhile Mutharika has asked the people of Karonga to unite and help the affected families.

 “Charity begins at home, before assistance comes from as far as Blantyre, as people of Karonga, you should be able to contribute a little something to show that you care for your neighbours,” he said also urging the private sector country wide to join the battle.


December 2009
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