Planet Ark January 22, 2008

Planet Ark January 22, 2008
Heavy Rains Kill 17 Canoeing on Zambia Lake
ZAMBIA: January 22, 2008
LUSAKA - Seventeen people drowned in a man-made lake in Zambia when their canoe capsized due to
heavy rains, officials said on Monday, adding that flooding in the country was expected to get worse.
Ackimson Banda, junior minister for Zambia's Central Province, said 13 of the victims were members of
one family who were canoeing to a village to attend a funeral on Friday night.
"Seventeen people were confirmed dead after a canoe capsized on the man-made lake (Lusiwasi) where
water has risen abnormally because of the heavy rains," Banda told Reuters.
Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi have been lashed by heavy rains for several weeks. Swollen
rivers have burst their banks, killing dozens and forcing thousands of villagers to flee flooded homes.
Jacob Nkomoki the deputy director of Zambia's Meteorological Department said more flooding was
expected from heavier rains forecast in traditionally higher rain belts in the country's northern region.
Nkomoki said three of Zambia's nine provinces were expected to receive heavier rains.
"We are forecasting heavier falls in the Northern, Luapula and Copperbelt provinces. The expected heavy
rains can bring flash floods ... it will then flow downstream to southern parts where there is likely to be
floods caused by water flow," Nkomoki said on state ZNBC television.
Zambia declared a national disaster last week and officials said they feared the outbreak of waterborne
diseases such as cholera.
The government has appealed for US$13 million in emergency funds from Western donors to cope with the
crisis and the Road Development Agency (RDA) said it planned to spend about US$15.6 million to
construct new roads after the flood damage.
Zambian authorities have closed schools, converting them into shelters for those displaced. Some refugees
are living in tents provided by the government and relief agencies.
Anthony Mwanaumo, the head of the state-run Food Reserve Agency (FRA), speaking on the same
televised programme, said 50,000 tonnes of maize had been set aside to feed people who had lost their
"We have an immediate relief programme and 50,000 metric tonnes has been set aside. The food will be
provided on a demand basis," Mwanaumo said.
In Malawi, authorities said the death toll from the floods had risen to four on Monday after one person was
swept away by swelling flood waters while trying to cross a river.
"The last four days have seen four people dead and 520 more families left homeless as the Shire and
Mwanza rivers continue to rise," Lawford Palani, the District Commissioner for Chikwawa told Reuters.
Malawi's biggest and longest river, Shire is rising in the district and officials, along with the Red Cross,
have asked people to move to higher ground in the areas affected. (Additional reporting by Mabvuto Banda
in Lilongwe; Editing by Charles Dick)