Death toll in Malawi floods hits 48

 The death toll from flooding in Malawi has risen to 48 and nearly 70,000 people are now without homes, the country`s president announced as he appealed for international assistance.

AFP| Last Updated: Jan 14, 2015, 18:29 PM IST

Blantyre: The death toll from flooding in Malawi has risen to 48 and nearly 70,000 people are now without homes, the country`s president announced as he appealed for international assistance.

"Since the flooding started 13,999 households have been affected with 69,995 rendered homeless, 48 lives have so far been lost since the national disaster hit," President Peter Mutharika said in a statement issued Tuesday.

The floods caused by heavy rains have affected half of the southern African country`s 28 districts -- mostly in the south of the nation which is among the world`s poorest.

Officials had earlier on Tuesday reported at least 19 deaths registered in recent days.

"The floods are a national tragedy that urgently needs both local and international response," Mutharika said.

Roads and rail lines have been cut by flooded rivers, which according to officials have also swept away surprised bystanders, people fleeing in canoes and sleeping families in their homes.