In what some geologists have described as rare occurrences, Malawi's northern district of Karonga has in the past three weeks experienced a total of 30 earthquakes resulting in at least 5 deaths, over 200 people injured and over 3,000 made homeless. Fresh reports say another earthquake hit Karonga Sunday 27th December and more are expected.
Since Malawi's president Bingu wa Mutharika declared Karonga as a national disaster area, appeals for help to the victims have been pouring to help the people in the uranium mining district.
Bloggers have also been quick to share their reactions. A question that lingers on the minds of many Malawians is the cause of the earthquakes. In a well-detailed post titled The missing Pieces of the Karonga Earthquake Puzzle, Muza Gondwe attempts to raise and answer the question:
The first quake struck on the evening of Sunday 6thgovernment and Red Cross are providing assistance to the victims of the earthquake but equally the government should also provide answers as to what happened? Do people understand what causes earthquakes: do they deem it an act of God, punishment from angry ancestors, or a sign of the end of days?
December, then a larger quake the next morning, followed by a series of aftershocks in the Karonga District of Northern Malawi. The ground was shaking as far as Mzuzu 150km away with the biggest quake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale. My parents who live in Rumphi between Mzuzu and Karonga, ran out of the house during each tremor wondering whether this was final days. Twelve tremors were felt across three days. Homes and buildings have been damaged, one fatality when a child died after a wall fell on him.
While Muza tries to provide the geological perspective, Ndagha shares his frustrations with the non-response of Malawi's political parties which he claims could have poured into Karonga if it were campaign time.
Is it that the parties do not have the money to give out to the victims or the area is not campaign friendly? I remember that earlier in the campaign period for 2009 elections, politicians competed against each other by out-giving money to Ndirande market fire “victims” in Blantyre.
You may wish to note that no one was reported dead or even injured yet the victims got over 5 million Kwacha in total. Compare that with Karonga when only 2.5 million Kwacha was given by Dr Bingu wa Mutharika!
Come on parties, be responsible and demonstrate that you are who you claim. This is when your electorate reallyneeds you.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Environment has dispelled rumors that the Karonga earthquakes have been caused by the mining works at Kayerekera which is 35 km away from the district heaquarters. The ministry says that the uranium mine is an open pit and has no underground activities hence has no connection to the earthquakes.
Just before the earthquakes in northern Malawi, Malawi was experiencing four major economic challenges surrounding fuel, forex, power and water. These left blogger Austin Madinga wonder if Malawi leadership was learning anything from the happenings:
We have water shortages in Blantyre, power and fuel shortages country wide and a general lack of foreign exchange. Left unchecked these can have debilitating effects on our economic growth. Various players have promised to resolve or ease the current pressures but when? The question I keep asking myself is will Malawians will come out of all these events any smarter?
On fuel crisis, journalist Richard Chirombo tried to put the situation into historical perspective by pointing out that Malawi cargo was stuck in Mozambique due to a decline in the use of the Beira port.
MALAWI has for the past ten years registered a sharp decline in the use of Beira Port in Mozambique, according to traffic statistics sourced from the port’s authority.
A report from Cornelder de Mozambique, the company that won a 25 year-long concession from the Government of Mozambique in 1998 to run the port, points to a sharp decline in the use of the port by Malawian exporters and importers.
It says, for instance, that, while the country’s imports and exports traffic amounted to 570 million metric tonnes in 1998- and went on to reach a 1, 3 million metric tonnes peak in traffic in 2002- Malawi has failed to beat its own record peak of 2006.
The fuel importers and governments of Malawi and Mozambique blamed each other for the fuel crisis that hit Malawi for a consecutive four weeks plus in November and December.