People look on as an excavator digs through the mud in search of bodies © Jack McBrams / AFP
The Malawi Defence Force (MDF) has introduced K9 sniffer dogs to help in detection of people buried in mud, as recovery of bodies continues days after devastating floods swept away houses and killed hundreds of people in the Southern Region.
The floods induced by Cyclone Freddy have killed 326 people but figures are expected to rise as the hunt for bodies has intensified as the rains have ceased.
The MDF has been deployed to lead the rescue efforts.
News site AFP reported that MDF soldiers and local inhabitants recovered five bodies at Manje in Blantyre on Thursday after locals said they had spotted bubbles forming under the muddy rubble.
“In a wrecked house half-covered in mud, five soldiers and 10 community members used three shovels to unearth the corpse of a middle-aged man,” AFP reported.
Deputy Inspector General of Police responsible for operations, Casper Chalera, told a press briefing yesterday that between Tuesday and Thursday this week, 1,044 people who were trapped by flooding water and mudslides had been rescued.
From the figures, 414 are children, 291 women and 19 are elderly women while the rest are men.
Malawi Defence Force Deputy Chief of military operations, Colonel Lameck Kalenga, said at the press briefing that the Government of Zambia has since provided a relief aid aircraft and a search and rescue aircraft to help rescue people who are still trapped due to floods in Malawi.
The two aircrafts are expected to be used in hard to reach areas in Mulanje, Phalombe and Nsanje.
In Malawi, Cyclone Freddy has affected 40, 702 households and has displaced 183,196 people who are being kept in camps set up across the Southern region.
On Wednesday, a funeral service for Cyclone Freddy victims was held at a primary school in Blantyre where there is also a camp for survivors.
Chakwera attended the funeral and he described the devastation brought by the cyclone as a “a national tragedy,”
In a national address hours later, he said the damage and the plight of the victims were “far worse than the images and footage we have been seeing”.
“The sight of coffins laid side-by-side, including several from the same family, was nothing short of heartbreaking,” said Chakwera.
Meanwhile, his government has set aside K1.6 billion to assist people affected by the floods.
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