Death toll reaches 76

THE death toll from mudflows disaster that hit Hanang District, Manyara Region, has risen to 76 with 117 injured persons admitted in various hospitals within the region.

Around 1,150 households comprising about 5,600 people have been affected by the disaster.

Equally noted, a total of 750 acres of farms have been destroyed along the deaths of livestock.

Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Parliament and Coordination), Ms Jenista Mhagama disclosed this yesterday in Manyara, when President Samia Suluhu Hassan arrived in the region to comfort the victims.

Ms Mhagama revealed that the work that currently awaits them is to see how they can bring life back to normalcy, while carrying out a resettlement for the victims.

“Upon completion of the plan, the entire community will be notified in order to bring the situa- tion to normal,” said the minister, noting the issue of the economy, whereby the majority of the victims have lost their farms, their produce.

She said the Ministry of Agriculture was prepared to see how it could provide support to the af- fected families.

She extended appreciation to Tanzanians for their material, moral and monetary support, calling upon the public to support in any ways possible.

Magnitude of the problem

Ms Mhagama said the disaster caused disruptions of economic and social activities due to the de- struction of infrastructure particuarly roads, buildings, communication infrastructure, water, health and education.

“Commercial service delivery in the small Township of Katesh stalled for some time but due to ongoing government initiatives things have returned to state of normalcy.

“Disaster management mechanisms employed under the directives of President Samia, coordinated and managed by the Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, ministers and the regional disaster management were going on well,” said Ms Mhagama.

She pointed out that measures to deal with the problem were being implemented by ministries, departments and other stakeholders along with public engagement from Hanang District and other neighbouring districts and regions. Such has taken into account the National Strategy in Dealing with El Nino, whose preparedness had begun.

She told the President that the rescue operation has continued to adopt the guidelines which have been outlined in the crucial disaster management document.

Also, Ms Mhagama said that the National Disaster Preparedness plan has acted as critical tools in dealing with the disaster.

She noted that the tragedy is a result of natural forces, pledging to continue to learn from the best practices from other similar occurrences as well as take necessary measures in the protection of Tanzanians and their properties.

Reason behind Hanang disaster

Minister Mhagama said preliminary investigation carried out by the Ministry of Minerals through the Geological Survey of Tanzania (GST) indicated that the tragedy was neither caused by an earthquake nor volcanic eruption at Mount Hanang.

The disaster was caused by collapse of some parts of Mount Hanang that failed to withstand the compression triggered by weak rocks ‘volcanic sediments’ after absorbing water.

“The geologist from the ministry of mineral conducted a survey, and the preliminary information shows that the source of the disaster was the collapse of part of the Mount Hanang that is featured with soft rocks that absorbed wa- ter and eventually caused a mud- slide,” she said.

She added: “After absorbing water, it created the compression that made some part of the mountain to fail to withstand the compression and eventually collapsed, sending tonnes of muddy waters that carried with it uproot- ed trees and rocks downstream towards Jorodom River.

The river could not withstand, breaking its banks as it poured muddy waters engulfing Katesh town and nearby villages.

Ms Mhagama said geologists are conducting further investigations to see if the area will continue to face the disaster in future.

Affected areas

Minister Mhagama told President Samia that the small township of Katesh and its wards including Jorodom and the hamlets of Udamesek, Gawal and Central Jorodom were severely affected.

Other areas affected include Ganana Ward and its hamlets which are Ganana A and Ganana E, Katesh Ward including Katesh A and Kwidagonyi.

The same applies to Katesh Bus Terminal and Katesh B hamlets.

Other affected areas include Gedambi Ward con- sisting of Gedambi Village, Uhuru and Dumanang Hamlets.

Steps taken In the area of rescue, she said search and rescue as well as treatment of victims was swiftly made including carrying out the rescue of 117 people who are being treated free of charge.

She said out of the 117 casualties, 16 patients have been admitted to Tumaini Hospital, Babati Hospital (16 patients) and seven have been admitted to other hospitals.

The minister said all the 76 bodies have already been recov- ered from the area, saying that the government conducted all the ar- rangements to bury the deceased.

As for the bodies which are yet to be recovered, she said the defence and security organs with expertise in the area of rescue operations are continuing with search work and will be reporting any updates as the days go by.

Human services.

As of Thursday morning, she said three temporary shelters were available for 440 people who lost their homes and properties.

The temporary shelters are located at Katesh Secondary School, Gendabi Primary School and Ganana Secondary School, saying that the victims are being provided with all needed services including food, health, accommodation and psychosocial support.

Donations

Minister Mhagama said that the government has continued to receive donations from the public and private sector, saying that the exercise to distribute the support has already started.

“Consultations to identify challenges facing individuals were continuing as the government looks for ways to advise and deal with the issues,” she said.

Food supply The minister said that all the victims at the temporary shelters along with the 1,285 police and army officers who are carrying out the searches and rescue operations have been obtaining meals.

She said the government has managed to mobilise food stuff which can suffice for 30 days for the community members and 14 days for all the rescue and security forces. Minister Mhagama said that the security organs have continued to strengthen surveillance to maintain peace and security.

Infrastructure

Ms Mhagama noted that restoration of infrastructure has continued in streets, villages, thereby bringing life and other activities back to normal.

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