The death toll from floods in northern Tanzania following torrential rains this weekend has risen to 63, officials have said.
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said in comments broadcast on television on Monday that the number of injured stood at 116 people. Landslides had destroyed half of one village he visited, he said.
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“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.
Queen Sendiga, commissioner for the Northern Manyara region, said the death toll had reached 68, the AFP news agency reported.
Earlier on Monday Zuhura Yunus, a spokesperson for the president’s office, said the flooding has affected at least 1,150 households and 5,600 people, with 750 acres [300 hectares] of farmland also destroyed.
“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.
The flooding is the latest example of extreme weather that has devastated East African countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan, with hundreds of people killed since the region’s rainy season began in October.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who was attending a United Nations climate summit in Dubai, has said that she will return from the trip early to attend to the crisis.
“I send my sincere condolences to the affected families and have directed all our security forces to deploy to the area and help those affected,” Hassan said in a video message.
The flooding follows a period of severe drought that has left soil in the region drier and less capable of holding water, heightening the risk of flash flooding.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Sendiga said that about 100 homes were swallowed up in the village of Katesh, about 300 kilometres (185 miles) north of the capital, Dodoma, and that rescue workers continue to search for people buried in the mud.
At the COP 28 UN climate summit in Dubai, Hassan highlighted the fact that poor countries face disproportionate risks from climate change, despite the fact that wealthy countries in the West bear responsibility for a large share of the cumulative emissions that drive climate change.
“It must be said, unfulfilled commitments erode solidarity and trust, and have detrimental and costly consequences for developing countries,” said Hassan. “My own country is losing 2 to 3 percent of its GDP due to climate change.”