Tanzania flood deaths rise to 63, prime minister says

The death toll from floods in northern Tanzania following torrential rains this weekend has risen to 63, the prime minister said on Monday, adding to hundreds of other deaths caused by extreme weather in East Africa since seasonal rains began in October.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said that the number of injured stood at 116 people, during a funeral of those who had died in Hanang district, northern Tanzania.

“I call upon my fellow Tanzanians to continue being patient especially now during this most difficult time, a disaster which has cost more than 63 lives of our fellow Tanzanians. Let us continue praying to God for us to remain calm during our time of grief,” Majaliwa said.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan shortened her trip to the COP28 climate talks in the United Arab Emirates to oversee the response to the incident.

“We have been highly affected by the floods and mudflow. I remember on the day of the incident, it was around 6 am when it started raining later on its started flooding, until now it has affected most of our business,we no longer have shops and many houses have been destroyed but also many families have lost their beloved ones,” said Petronea Mateo, a flood survivor and shop owner.

Moris Paulo, a relative of a flood victim, stated: “We have suffered a great loss in our lives, we have lost many of our beloved ones along with our properties. We have nowhere to go, we ask the government to help us during this difficult moment.”

Severe flooding caused by the El Nino and Indian Ocean Dipole weather phenomena has forced hundreds of thousands from their homes in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Tanzania since the rains began.

The flooding comes on the back of the worst drought to hit the region in 40 years. Dry soils are less able to absorb water, increasing the risk of flash-flooding.