Tanzania flood, landslide death toll rises to more than 60
The landslides and floods have affected 1,150 households, or 5,600 people
Dar es Salaam — The death toll from floods in northern Tanzania following torrential rains this weekend has risen to 63, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said on Monday, adding to hundreds of other deaths caused by extreme weather in East Africa since seasonal rains began in October.
Majaliwa said in comments broadcast on television that the number of injured stood at 116 people. Landslides had destroyed half of one village he visited, he said.
“We are here in front of bodies of our fellows. We have lost 63 loved ones. Of the total fellows we lost, 23 are men and 40 are women,” he said during an event to bid farewell to the bodies of those who had died in Hanang district, northern Tanzania.
“My fellow Tanzanians, this is a tragedy,” he said.
Earlier on Monday, President Samia Suluhu Hassan had put the number of dead at 57 and those injured and receiving treatment at 85.
Zuhura Yunus, a spokesperson for her office, said the floods and landslides had affected 1,150 households, or 5,600 people, with more than 300ha of farmland destroyed.
Severe flooding caused by El Nino and the Indian Ocean Dipole weather phenomena has killed hundreds of people in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes since seasonal rains began in October.
Yunus said Hassan would shorten her trip to the COP28 climate talks taking place in the United Arab Emirates and return to Tanzania to oversee the response to the incident.
“Despite all the challenges rescue work is facing from damaged roads and mud and logs filling the roads, the government is doing its best to deal with that,” Yunus said.
Search and rescue operations were under way in the Manyara region as authorities fear some bodies might be trapped in the mud, she said.
About 100 houses in the village of Katesh, Hanang district, were swallowed by a landslide, Sendiga said, adding that they did not know the whereabouts of people from 28 households.
Television images showed streets turned into rivers of mud carrying debris past flooded houses.
Climate change is causing more intense and more frequent extreme weather events, according to climate scientists.
The flooding comes on the back of the worst drought to hit the region in 40 years. Dry soils are less able to absorb water, increasing the risk of flash flooding.
In neighbouring Kenya, where floods have so far killed at least 142 people, the banks of the Voi River in the country’s south burst on Monday, causing floods in villages in nearby Voi town, the Kenya Red Cross said on X, adding that its personnel were helping to rescue those who were stranded.
Update: December 4 2023
The story has been updated with the prime minister's comments and new death toll.
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