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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 January 2006, 10:01 GMT
Malawi floods displace thousands
A Malawian famer in Nsanje
Malawians have already been suffering from severe drought
Flash floods in southern Malawi have displaced more than 40,000 people and killed one person when his car was washed away by the rising waters.

Houses, livestock and crops of farming families had been swept away in the Lower Shire Valley, a local district commissioner said.

Some 5m Malawians are already facing food shortages after the worst drought in more than a decade.

Aid agencies say the floods have further hampered relief efforts.

Malawi's Irrigation and Water Development Minister Sidiq Mia visited the affected areas on Tuesday.

"Over 8,000 farming families have been affected in Chikwawa where crops and livestock have been washed away and houses have fallen," Chikwawa District Commissioner Harrison Lende told the minister.

Mr Mia said government has already sourced six tonnes of maize seeds so that people could plant when water receded but warned that people should not return to flood-prone areas.

"Government will provide you with plastic sheeting for makeshift homes and food will be provided too but you have to consider moving upland," he said.

The BBC's Raphael Tenthani says that despite the Lower Shire Valley being flood-prone people resist calls to move upland because soils there are fertile.

The floods have cut off communication with other villages in the area due to poor roads raising fears that the number of affected people could be much higher, our correspondent says.

Malawi's Meteorological Department has warned that people living in low-lying areas throughout Malawi should brace for more flooding because heavy rains will continue to fall in the coming weeks.

Mozambican media has reported that flooding has killed at least 13 people in central Sofala Province since torrential rains hit last week.

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