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MANYARA, Tanzania

The aftermath of heavy rainfall on Sunday night resulted in devastating floods in northern Tanzania, killing 49 people and injuring more than 85 others in the Manyara region, officials confirmed on Monday.

Queen Sendiga, Manyara regional commissioner, told reporters that the death toll has risen from to 49 from 47 reported a day earlier after two more dead bodies had been recovered from mud.

“We expect the death toll to rise as some people are still missing,” she said.

Sendiga attributes the deaths to a barrage of landslides triggered by torrential rains that pounded the impoverished region, causing part of Mount Hanang to erode and bury nearby homes.

“The government has deployed security forces from the military, police, fire, rescue, and other organs to help with rescue operations,” Sendiga told Anadolu.

The impact of the floods has been particularly severe in the Gendabi ward and the central area of Katesh town, the administrative headquarters of the Hanang district. Homes and residences were swept away by mudslides, leaving some individuals feared to be trapped.

Sendiga said the floods have rendered the highway from Katesh to Singida region impassable due to the debris, as houses and trees have been engulfed.

Samson Kileo, a Hanang resident, called for government intervention to repair damaged infrastructure, including roads and homes.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan, currently in Dubai attending the UN climate change conference COP28, expressed deep regret for the incident. She symphathized with the flood victims and directed all government forces to focus on rescue operations and preventive measures in the affected area.

“We have received with great regret the news of heavy rain in the Manyara region causing damage to Katesh. We console to the victims of the incident. I have directed all government efforts to be focused on rescue operations to prevent further disasters,” Hassan said.

The incident has prompted a shift in government priorities, redirecting efforts from the environmental meeting in Dubai to address the urgent crisis in Hanang. The president acknowledged the disappointment caused by the incident, attributing it to unforeseen circumstances.

A remarkable incident emerged that reflects the strength of the human spirit and the power of collective action in times of crisis.

Reports have surfaced of a harrowing episode involving a 9-year-old boy who found himself trapped in the swift currents of cascading muddy water, interwoven with debris and logs, as it flowed down from higher grounds.

The vivid image of the child, devoid of clothing, caught in the treacherous stream, paints a grim picture of the vulnerability faced by Hanang’s residents during this natural disaster.

Onlookers, spurred by the sound of a crying child, did not hesitate to plunge into the water with courage that defied the severity of the situation.

“We had to hold our hands and move slowly to where the baby had been trapped to rescue him,” said Michael Qorro, a resident of Hanang.

Miraculously, the rescuers managed to reach the stranded boy and pull him to safety. The fact that he emerged from such a perilous situation with only bruises surprised the rescuers who rushed to his aid. 

Despite the traumatic experience and the force of nature he faced, the boy was in good health. By Kizito Makoye Shigela, Anadolu Agency

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