Malawi appeals for international help after quake

AP News
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Posted: Dec 21, 2009 12:14 PM

Disaster officials in Malawi are appealing for international help after a powerful earthquake killed at least three people and damaged thousands of homes.

Lilian Ng'oma, the Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs, told The Associated Press Monday from northern Malawi that the situation was "pathetic and sad," with thousands of homes uninhabitable following Sunday's 6.0-magnitude quake in the Karonga district.

The Malawi Red Cross Society and Ng'oma's department have provided some tents, but local official Gasten Macheka said many more are needed.

"We need at least 48,000 tents to cater for the 270, 000 people in the district," he said.

Macheka said 1,111 houses were destroyed by the quake and more than 3,565 were damaged and may collapse. People who have yet to get tents are staying in the open air while water is seen gushing from the ground from broken sewers.

In some areas there are no houses standing.

Macheka said at least three people were killed and 200 injured Sunday.

Karonga District health officer James Mpunga said close to 300 people were treated for varying degrees of injuries from broken bones to skin lacerations.

"We are still receiving more patients from outlaying areas," he said.

The Karonga district in northern Malawi has been hit by a series of earthquakes and aftershocks since the beginning of December. Tremors also shook the district Sunday night.

Parts of Malawi that lie in the Great Rift Valley are prone to quakes.