Torrential rain have caused heavy flooding in Mali’s capital Bamako, and surrounding areas, which has caused the death of at least 15 people, as well as leaving dozens of people homeless, on Thursday, May 16th.
In a press release issued a few hours after the tragedy, the Malian government stated that there was a provisional death toll of 15 people who had been found dead, most of them coming from working-class neighbourhoods, where houses and streets were submerged by water. "Following a heavy rain recorded on Thursday, May 16, floods have occurred in some areas of Bamako causing extensive damage and loss of life. A provisional report states that 15 people have died," the statement said.
Districts in the capital city received up to 138 millimetres of rain, and rainfall lasted for at least five hours. Among the material damage caused were flooded houses, washed away cars, and damage to people’s possessions, and many of the affected neighbourhoods are also are without electricity.
An emergency meeting of the national platform for risk and disaster reduction was held by the government and co-chaired by the ministers of security and civil protection, health, humanitarian action and environment.
"The water has flooded my whole house with everything in it. My children and I stayed outside all day," a female victim said. Other sources reported that joint search and rescue operations by civilians and security forces found 24 dead and at least five people injured. The spectacle was distressing in the streets of areas affected by the disaster.
"In this painful circumstance, the government offers its condolences to the families of the missing and wishes speedy recovery to the wounded," stated the government, adding that any developments in the situation would be the subject of a subsequent statement.
In the face of the situation, citizens urged public authorities to take drastic measures against uncontrolled building constructions and sales of housing plots in prohibited areas. Mali is a Sahel country that often experiences deadly floods due to heavy rains, and these floods lead to loss of life because of the poor condition of mud houses or from houses built in the bed of river creeks.
Speaking to 7Dnews, Mahamadou Adamou, an environmentalist, explains: "the anarchic occupation, insufficiency of the evacuation routes of runoff, as well as the lack of disposals regarding gutters’ cleaning are, among others, the causes of the flood. The Malian state should take necessary action regarding the extension of the city."
The Malian weather services, which announced a strong winter rainfall this year in the country, also insist on the need to regularly clean housing gutters by the sanitation services in order to limit the damage of the rain.
The last wave of floods in Bamako occurred between May 24th and September 17th last year, during the winter period, when, according to the director general of civil protection, Colonel Seydou Doumbia, the government has registered 15,686 households affected and 135,605 people at risk.
In total, 60 flood cases were recorded throughout Mali, along with 50 people, and 300 animals that died during various disasters, according to the ministry of security and civil protection.
Many Malian localities, where the state services are not well represented are among the worst affected, added Colonel Doumbia.
"The government remains mobilised through the ongoing interventions of the civil protection services, as well as other technical departments of the state to help people in distress. I invite each of our compatriots to observe with rigor the safety and prohibition instructions erected against the anarchic installations of houses in the zones at risk," said the prime minister, Dr Boubou Cissé, while announcing special protective measures that have already been taken in Mali during this tragedy.